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Policymakers’ Reflections on Water Governance Issues

Joyeeta Gupta
Aziza Akhmouch
William Cosgrove
Zachary Hurwitz
Josefina Maestu
Olcay Ünver


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The two cultures theory argues that policy makers and scientists have different cultures and difficulty in communicating with each other. Others argue that there is increasing co-production of knowledge. This essay aims to assess the concerns of policy makers based on our policy work, policy-related research work, and our day-to-day experiences in terms of three questions: What are the perceived major issues for water governance? What are the major challenges in the structure of the existing global water governance approach? What is the vision for improving global water governance? This essay combines views from governmental, hybrid, inter- and non-governmental policy makers. It argues that water covers so many issues, aspects, and sectors that a key challenge is whether water should be governed as a sector or as a cross-cutting issue. It looks at how this challenge plays out within the United Nations system and leads to specific goal setting, while missing an overall visionary approach and a legally binding system of governance; within the hybrid arena, where it leads to inclusive discussion but not necessarily triggering consensus decisions; within nation states, where it has led to a loss of focus and a multitude of gaps and overlaps; and within transnational cooperative projects, where it has led to multiple interpretations of what is good practice. It then identifies a series of research questions.

Key words

coordination mechanism; drivers; global governance; global water governance; outside water box; world water scenarios

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087