Water governance has emerged as perhaps the most important topic of the international water community in the 21st century, and achieving “good” water governance is now a focus of both policy discourse and innumerable development projects. Somewhat surprisingly in light of this attention, there is widespread confusion about the meaning of the term “water governance”. This paper reviews the history of the term’s use and misuse to reveal how the concept is frequently inflated to include issues that go well beyond governance. Further, it highlights how calls to improve water governance often espouse predetermined goals that should instead be the very function of water governance to define. To help overcome this confusion, the paper suggests a more refined definition of water governance and related qualities of good water governance that are consistent with broader notions of the concepts. In light of the substantial resources allocated in its name, this paper’s findings show there is significant potential to strengthen efforts at improving water governance.
Recommended citation: ‘Lautze, J., de Silva, S., Giordano, M., & Sanford, L. (2011). "Putting the cart before the horse: Water governance and IWRM." Natural Resources Forum. 35(1).’