Access to water resources is a vital component of any international development framework that seeks to eradicate poverty and address global socio-economic inequities. The shifting approaches taken to the question of water over the past 30 years neatly reflects the changes, continuities and challenges in the evolution of development policy itself. The negotiation around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has shown the limitations and contradictions of the international development agenda, and none has shown those limitations more so than the water goals. This chapter argues that we are in an era of the global ‘water grab’ with ten major firms controlling water in over 100 countries. It is increasingly unlikely that the water goals will be delivered, based as they are on a public-private partnership model. This may best express the failure of global international development policy itself to deliver on meeting basic needs, given what remains a non-transformative economic growth model.