A Research Companion to Water Transitions around the Globe
Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink
Chapter 3: Driving Forces in Global Freshwater Governance
Joyeeta Gupta 3.1 Introduction: the problem Although water governance has a very long history going back some 5000 years, and transboundary water governance goes back some centuries, global water governance, to the extent that it is possible to talk about that, is of relatively recent origin (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2008; Schnurr, 2008). This can be attributed to a number of factors. First, water has for long been seen as a local to regional physical body and its management was confined to relevant local and regional administrative bodies. Second, the scale of water problems has been relatively small and focused and did not call for a global water governance process. Third, the interconnections between environmental, economic and water challenges were not quite so obvious. However as social issues and those of global politics and economics changed dramatically in the twentieth century, the need for water governance at the global level was felt strongly in United Nations (UN) bodies, non-UN bodies and academic circles, but water is very distinct from other fields of governance. Thus while governance related to the depletion of the ozone layer is highly centralized, and governance of climate change matters is relatively centralized within the UN multilateral framework under which a number of different regional and international efforts tend to converge, water governance is highly diffuse and dispersed throughout the UN system and beyond it (PahlWostl et al., 2008). It is necessary to understand the nature of the water governance field to be able to explore what has...
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