Climate change, population growth, ongoing urbanization and land use conversion to agriculture is prompting government, public, non-profit and business organizations worldwide to pay greater attention and focus greater resources on finding ways to enhance the security, resiliency and overall management of water resources.
Striving to provide an organizational “toolkit” to realize these aims, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a report on November 16, Water Governance in Latin America and Caribbean: A Multi-Level Approach.
“The report underscores the importance of water governance in achieving the sanitation and water targets in the Millennium Development Goals,” the OECD explains, using “survey data and institutional mapping to examine the design, regulation and implementation of water policy” across 13 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region countries.
Enhancing water governance in the LAC
In the report, OECD analysts identify gaps and challenges in water governance and policy responses in LAC countries with the intention of providing data for governments and other relevant organizations to compare, contrast and “benchmark themselves against their peers.”
In doing so, the report authors identify and describe several water governance characteristics common across the region, including “decentralized water service delivery and a lack of systematic relationships between constitutional structures and water institutions.” Among the challenges subsequently identified are “policy gaps and fragmentation of responsibilities; accountability gaps and absence of monitoring and regulation; capacity gaps related to lack of staff and obsolete infrastructure; and information gaps.”
Calling for “coordination across government levels to facilitate integrated water management,” the OECD report authors make recommendations that really could be applied in any world region. Specifically, they recommend that LAC regional governments:
- Identify gaps in water policy governance;
- Ensure the involvement of government at the sub-national level in decision making and implementation;
- Institute performance evaluations, foster enhanced capacity building;
- Encourage public participation; and
- Assess the adequacy of existing governance structures.
In the report’s chapters, the OECD offers water governance organizations and policy makers a range of “tools” that can help realize these goals. These include chapters on “a multi-level approach to address complexity in the water sector; mapping institutional roles and responsibilities; and multi-level coordination instruments for water policy making.”
In addition, the report includes water governance country profiles for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.
*Photo credit: Jose Rocha, Los Tiempos