Tuesday the 22nd of March is World Water Day. Perhaps a good day to reflect upon the goals we seek after in our efforts at water governance. Especially relevant is the impact of globalization. Like in other areas, such as climate change, we can observe how social-ecological systems becaome increasingl;y connected. This process connects local (water) resources, their users, and their governors to their counterparts elsewhere. This process of globalization has obvious downsides. The over use of water resources in one locality can increasingly be compensated by taking the water from another, be it in the form of virtual water or of real water. Sometimes such taking is done by ‘roving bandits’, organizations with little local roots that are just there to take the resource. Once depleted, they’ll move elsewhere, and governments are often not able to respond quickly enough. However, globalization also offers possibilities;
enhancing awareness becomes increasingly easy as internet connects people from across the global. There is an emerging global discourse on water governance emerging that emphasizes high principles such as Integrated Water Resources Management, which revolves around public participation, governance at the river basin level, etc. Globalization thus offers challenges and opportunities. An interesting take on the ‘net effect’ of globalization was offered by Young and colleagues in the journal Global Environmental Change. They arrive at very balanced conclusions, and suggest we can not say with certainty whether globalization offers predominantly better or worse opportunities for water governance. Joyeeta Gupta, in her discussion of global water governance is unfortunately relatively pessimistic about the actual effects that the discussion on global water governance has had in practice. She finds that many of the principles that are adopted reflect a ‘Northern’ bias and that many international documents assume that prescriptions (such as IWRM) are ‘one size fits all’, whereas they should be tailored to local circusmstances. So at Global Water Day, do we still believe in the added value of global water governance? And if so, dow we believe it is advancing in the right direction?