Video message from Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
The "water crisis" is mainly a governance crisis.
Managed correctly, there is sufficient water on earth for the world’s population, but managing water is a complex issue involving multiple stakeholders from all levels of government with different views and objectives. A lack of effective management of interdependencies across these stakeholders can hamper the efficient design and implementation of water policy reform.
Some of the main challenges to good water governance include:
Poorly managed multi-level governance
Limited capacity at local level
Unclear allocation of roles and responsibilities
Lack of integrity and transparency
Resource allocation difficulties
Poor financial management
Lack of long-term financial planning
Poor economic regulation
Poorly drafted legislation
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these water governance challenges; however, there is a need for home-grown and place based policies that integrate territorial characteristics and concerns. While countries are at different stages in their water management development, common challenges can be identified so that proper responses can be developed.
To tackle these challenges, countries need to take stock from past experiences, identify good practice and develop tools to create effective, fair and sustainable water policies. These solutions must be developed and implemented by all stakeholders and at all levels of government.
Objectives of the OECD Programme on Water Governance
As part of the OECD Horizontal Programme on Water, extensive work is being undertaken to help policymakers deal with critical water governance challenges, make specific water reforms happen, and improve the outcomes of water policy design and implementation.
This work first focused on issues related to multi-level governance, with a specific attention to vertical relationships across levels of government and horizontal co-ordination between line ministries at central government level, and among sub-national authorities.
Since 2011, key findings have been published in two OECD reports, using the OECD Multi-level Governance Framework.
The programme is now oriented towards a series of water governance policy dialogues with selected basin, local, regional, national authorities to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of water governance arrangements in place and provide customized policy guidance accordingly.
Making Water Reform Happen in Mexico (2013)
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The report provides evidence-based assessment and policy recommendations in support of Mexico’s water reform. It analyses implementation bottlenecks and identifies good practices in four key areas considered as essential drivers for change in the water sector of Mexico: multi-level and river basin governance; economic efficiency and financial sustainability; and regulatory functions for water supply and sanitation. The report highlights many positive achievements. Mexico has a well-developed policy framework for water resource management with a number of institutions and policy instruments in place. But much remains to be done for effective, sustainable and integrated water policy. The report emphasises that policy implementation is uneven, river basin councils are not fully operational twenty years after their creation, the regulatory framework for drinking water and sanitation is scattered across multiple actors, and harmful subsidies in other sectors (energy, agriculture) clearly work against water policy objectives. Efforts are particularly needed to increase water productivity and the cost efficiency of water policies, address multi-level and river basin governance challenges (in particular to bridge inconsistencies between federal and basin priorities), sequence and prioritise reform needs, and support greater policy coherence with agriculture and energy.
Water governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: A multi-level approach (2012)
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The report calls for more integrated water policies and governance mechanisms that are context-specific, flexible and beneficial to the poor.
It provides, for 13 LAC countries, an institutional mapping of the allocation of water policy roles and responsibilities. The report then evaluates the importance of 7 multi-level governance gaps : mismatch between administrative and hydrological boundaries, lack of capacity at sub-national level, information asymmetry, diverging objectives between policy areas, under-financing, sectoral fragmentation across ministries and public agencies, and poor accountability.
The report also highlights good practices for vertical and horizontal coordination of water policy, and suggests guidelines to better manage interdependencies across public actors within and outside the water box.
LAC countries covered include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru.
Water governance in OECD countries: A multi-level approach (2011)
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This report addresses multi-level governance challenges in water policy implementation and identifies good practices for coordinating water policy across ministries, between levels of government, and across local actors at sub-national level.
Based on the OECD Multi-level Governance Methodological Framework, it identifies the main governance “gaps” from a policy, administrative, information, accountability, funding, objective and capacity perspective, and analyses the governance instruments adopted in response.
Data collected from an extensive survey on water governance provide institutional mapping of roles and responsibilities in water policy-making at national/sub-national level in 17 OECD countries. The report concludes with preliminary guidelines for effective management of multi-level governance in water policy.
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