Water governance

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Technological innovation is almost impossible without considering the governance aspects and vice versa. Facing the challenges in the water sector always includes the technical and the governance dimensions and these mutually influence each other. Innovation of water governance is necessary to better realize collective goals of public interest, whereas the governance of water innovations is crucial to foster technical innovations and to overcome the barriers that hinder them. The main challenges for water governance are related to the eminent complexity that comes along with the paradigms of modern/integrated water management. Integration concerns time and spatial scales as well as integration of sectors and interfacing with numerous other legislations and policy domains.


The main bottlenecks for innovation of water governance are the fragmentation of institutions and responsibilities. This results in institutional barriers, a low profile on the political agenda and a lack of public awareness and private involvement.

Market opportunities

Innovation of water governance may enable/accelerate technical innovations and can thus be a driver for innovation, resulting in indirect market opportunities. In addition, various innovative modes of water governance can be marketed, especially when they are aligned with technical innovations.


Gaps between, among others, sectorial policies, institutions, regional levels, stakeholder groups, and different planning horizons are bridged and interfaces are established. At the same time, improved private governance arrangements are in place, especially in global value chains and in developing countries. Existing models can be verified in EU member states and their transfer to potential other settings within and outside Europe are evaluated. Furthermore, approaches to support water pricing as a tool to set the right incentives are tested, to support the realization of collective goals and to enable structural changes. An integrated picture of barriers in the governance system that hinder innovation is created and innovative interventions to overcome them are developed.

Initial Actions

The Steering Group of the EIP Water invites Action Groups to develop and test:

  1. Innovative forms of governance that connect across boundaries of regions, policy sectors, jurisdictional levels and timescales, and that simultaneously involve the public and raise public awareness.
  2. Partnership models which link private sector governance, such as certification, stewardship and round tables, to public sector water governance with a view to achieve sustainable water management in low-income countries and emerging markets.
  3. Water pricing policies based on innovative approaches, where the over-user pays principle is added to the polluter pays principle, defining clear and measurable efficiency targets for each area of activity at the relevant level.
  4. Interventions to overcome barriers in the governance systems that hinder development and uptake of innovations.