The sphere of decision making about water

This figure is extracted from chapter 1 of the WWDR3, Water in a Changing World (2009). It illustrates the sphere of decisions that determine how water resources are used.


The lower section of the figure, titled Water box, is the realm of water sector management. Here, water managers inside the water box and managers of other sectors oversee their own management–resource-use interactions.

Above them are the actors who make or influence broad socioeconomic policies that affect water.

The cycle begins with political-process actors – in government, civil societyand business – deciding on socio-economic development objectives and formulating policy and operational decisions to achieve them. Their decisions, which respond to life and livelihoods requirements, are implemented in a context of externalities – often beyond their direct control – that interact with and modify drivers of change, creating pressures on land and water resources (among others).

Water resources managers address the demands of water uses to meet the life-sustaining requirements of people and other species and to create and support livelihoods. In doing so, they may add to – or reduce – the pressures caused by these drivers. However, their actions may fall short of their  objectives because of constraints related to inadequate water, financial or human resources or because the external forces are behaving in unforeseen ways. Making progress thus requires returning to the original political actors in the decision-making process for responses that take these constraints into account.

Needed in place of this discontinuous decision-making process is one in which water managers inform the initial decision-making and participate in planning the appropriate responses, interacting with the principal actors andwith the managers of other sectors.

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