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Target C: Water Governance

Target C: All countries strengthen equitable, participatory and accountable water governance.

This target aims to promote an enabling environment such that institutional structures relevant to water are effective and that its administrative systems function for the benefit of society as a whole. It underpins all the water targets and supports linkages to other development themes.


Achieving the target will require actions covering the following four elements:

  • Implementing integrated approaches to water management  at local, basin and national levels including participatory decision-making;
  • Delivering all drinking water supply, sanitation and hygiene services in a progressively affordable, accountable, and financially and environmentally sustainable manner;
  • Ensuring regulatory frameworks are in place for water resources, infrastructure and services, and enhance the performance of responsible public authorities and their water operators
  • Strengthening knowledge transfer and skills development.

Appropriate governance measures, such as regulation and enforcement of agreed standards, are essential to ensure overall quality of water bodies over time. Controlling pollution will improve water quality in rivers and lakes as well as support ecosystem functioning by reducing organic and mineral nutrients that deplete the oxygen supply.

Strengthening water governance will require a concerted programme of education, knowledge and skills development, including a focus on youth and women. The collection, analysis, and use of sex-disaggregated data, gender statistics and other social data are necessary to check that meeting the targets removes inequalities.

Given the natural diversity in governance systems and levels of development between countries this target enables each country to set its own sub-targets according to its specific circumstances.


The governance indicators would cover aspects relevant to all countries acknowledging different contexts, and extend across all the targets. Measuring progress on governance will require an essentially qualitative analysis of a wide range of measures. This would be done using social science survey methods, such as structured questionnaires and house hold surveys, following up and improving on the survey on water resources submitted to the Rio+20 conference. The indicators would be an integral part of the survey covering the four elements that make up target C.

For example, the indicators would measure progress on strengthening governance issues in relevant institutions, assessing the ability to formulate and implement policies, laws and strategies, and improvements in relation to gender and disadvantaged groups to determine if progress is benefitting all social groups. The indicators would also measure progress on putting in place effective institutions and agreements for national and international basin managemen

Photo credit: World Bank-Simone D. McCourtier, creative commons


Last update:07 Oct 2014