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E&S Home > Vol. 18, Iss. 4 > Art. 53 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Global Water Governance in the Context of Global and Multilevel Governance: Its Need, Form, and Challenges

Joyeeta Gupta, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam; UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Institute of Environmental Systems Research, University of Osnabrück


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To complement this Special Feature on global water governance, we focused on a generic challenge at the global level, namely, the degree to which water issues need to be dealt with in a centralized, concentrated, and hierarchical manner. We examined water ecosystem services and their impact on human well-being, the role of policies, indirect and direct drivers in influencing these services, and the administrative level(s) at which the provision of services and potential trade-offs can be dealt with. We applied a politics of scale perspective to understand motivations for defining a problem at the global or local level and show that the multilevel approach to water governance is evolving and inevitable. We argue that a centralized overarching governance system for water is unlikely and possibly undesirable; however, there is a need for a high-level think tank and leadership to develop a cosmopolitan perspective to promote sustainable water development.

Key words

global governance; multilevel governance; scale; water governance
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087