Enhancing water security for the benefits of humans and nature—The role of governance


The past two decades have witnessed increasing global concern with the need for sustainable water and land management. Human water security is often achieved in the short term at the expense of the environment with harmful implications in the long run.This review identifies the major governance challenges for (sustainable) water security, and how their nature, and the perception and framing of the societal discourse, have changed. It departs from the definition of Grey and Sadoff [. 1] '. Water security refers to the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economies' to highlight the need for inclusive and integrative institutional arrangements supporting negotiations and transparent and evidence-based decisions about trade-offs. The review reflects critically on successes and failures of governance approaches, and addresses how far emerging challenges to water security reflect the expanding complexity of problems, greater connectivity of issues, multiple spatial scales, and increasing uncertainty, as well as a lack of adequate governance capacity. The review will identify some promising avenues to explore in scientific, policy and management communities.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Claudia Pahl-Wostl
Keith Richards
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability