What scale for water governance?

Fresh water goes global

Recently Science presented essays invited to debate key issues in freshwater research and management. Here the debate is about “when, and to what extent, should a global viewpoint replace, or work in tandem with, enduring localized perspectives?”

Local perspectives on water

“A global perspective on water management predominates in high-level policy discussions. This has the advantage that over-arching issues can be highlighted and international resources mobilized. But water issues arise from local conditions and can only be resolved by people and institutions with local authority and responsibility. High-level policies can only have meaningful impact if they are informed by and responsive to local and regional contexts. In keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, high-level policy-making should support local and regional interests, efforts, and policies.”

Local perspectives on water, J. G. Hering, D. L. Sedlak, C. Tortajada, A. K. Biswas, C. Niwagaba, and T. Breu, Science 31 July 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6247 pp. 479-480, DOI: 10.1126/science.aac5902

Fresh water goes global

“In conclusion, acknowledging that local actions on water continue to trigger global-scale syndromes is a necessary first step toward effective governance. A global perspective is essential for providing context to local conditions, recognizing commonalities in both problems and solutions, identifying where prevention or remediation is needed most, and tracking progress or backsliding. Global thinking will help craft international agreements on water stewardship that ensure social equity and sustainability. Persistent focus on the local scale will miss such opportunities, which could otherwise make meaningful progress in solving 21st-century water problems that are, in fact, global.”

Fresh water goes global, C. J. Vörösmarty, A. Y. Hoekstra, S. E. Bunn, D. Conway, and J. Gupta, Science 31 July 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6247 pp. 478-479, DOI: 10.1126/science.aac6009

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