Groundwater governance is about the decision-making processes, law and policy, conditions and enabling environment that determine who gets what water, how, where, and when. Governance sets critical frames for groundwater management, planning, and policy implementation, and takes aim at the decision-making practices and outcomes at multiple levels of the administration.
Governance takes place at different, partially overlapping levels. It is concerned with the regulatory framework of formal rules, principles for decision-making, instrumental steering of the relationship between government and line ministries, incentives for cross-sectoral collaboration, the conditions for financing, data collection and sharing, and the link and nexus with other sectoral policies that govern utilisation of groundwater. At the regional and local level, groundwater governance comprises specific arrangements that are devised, usually between the different users and local authorities, at the aquifer or basin scale, including social norms and local practices.
The rule of law and other governance principles are, alongside institutional arrangements, the cornerstones that support and create opportunities for steering, action, and transformation. Groundwater governance is challenging due to several interlinked and somewhat overlapping factors. It is partially because of the open access-nature and direct use of most underground resources.
The session will explore gains, gaps and challenges from a groundwater governance perspective on acceleration of SDG 6. How can improved cross-sectoral governance – at multiple levels including the very local – better value groundwater resources and aquifers? What coordination measures are necessary; how can better alignment be-tween formal governance arrangements and informal elements be fostered? How can regulatory frameworks be improved?