Water Governance

Governing connected systems — land and water — within a watershed needs a combination of elements: clear rules, appropriate actors, effective participation, common visions, multisector and multi-level strategic planning, strong relationships, accountability and conflict management.

City of Nairobi, Kenya

City of Quito, Ecuador


Municipal actors can help protect their water sources by providing leadership in overcoming key barriers to good governance over watersheds (i, ii):

  • institutional fragmentation hinders decision-making;
  • a lack of political will and public awareness hinders collective action;
  • a lack of information about the type and scale of interventions needed;
  • a lack of incentives for stakeholders to improve conditions;
  • a lack of investment in the processes and transaction costs of stakeholder engagement.


i. Grey, D., Garrick, D., Blackmore, D., Kelman, J., Muller, M., and Sadoff, C. (2013). Water Security in One Blue Planet: Twenty-First Century Policy Challenges for Science. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A Mathematical,Physical and Engineering Sciences 371: 20120406.

ii. Akhmouch, A. and Clavreul, D. (2016). Stakeholder Engagement for Inclusive Water Governance: “Practicing What We Preach” with the OECD Water Governance Initiative. Water 8: 204..