Goal 5: Support Equitable and Effective Governance That Sustains Rivers


For the next week, we'll be exploring the six goals that will guide our work for the next five years, as part of the launch of our new Strategic Plan. Read the whole series! 


For many river communities, a river is life. It plays many roles: It’s both a highway that enables them to travel and trade, and a supermarket that supplies food and drink. It provides life-giving sediment to fertilize crops, and water to irrigate them. It can even be a source of cash: A robust fish catch can mean precious income for farmers. 

Instead, decisions affecting millions of people are made far away from the riverbanks, behind closed doors by a select few in government or in boardrooms.

The consequences of such disconnected planning can be devastating. Developers ignore or undervalue input from local communities, and often severely restrict community access to information about the projects planned for their river. Destructive projects move forward with no consultation. Communities have no voice in decisions that may leave them hungry, displaced, and without work.

The power imbalances that lead to such outcomes are often long-standing and deeply entrenched. Local and indigenous peoples often vie for limited resources at the nexus between water, land and energy. Countries that share rivers with other countries don’t coordinate their planning, bleeding rivers dry with a thousand cuts. And perhaps the most vexing imbalance lies between those with power in society and institutions and those without: in particular, indigenous peoples, minorities and women.

But there are ways to address these imbalances -- and we must, to turn the tide.

In the next five years, we’ll continue working with peoples’ movements and civil society networks to engage with river governance processes. We’ll promote free and abundant access to information, and facilitate cross-border exchanges between all stakeholders. 

We will encourage and assist governments to conduct planning at river basin and transboundary scales, and we’ll undertake and disseminate analysis of river governance issues, sharing practical examples of good governance to inform better cooperation between governments and other river basin stakeholders.

We’ll document examples where national and transboundary governance frameworks are not working for communities and ecosystem sustainability, and develop an evidence base that demonstrates why including marginalized people and groups achieves better river governance and sustainable development.

River communities and civil society must have access to information, and they must play a role in decisions that affect their water and resources. But those who hold the reins will not yield power without patient, sustained, determined action on the part of affected communities. This is an ongoing process that demands deep, multi-year commitment to achieve results.

By 2022, the governance of rivers, including transboundary rivers, is effective, transparent and accountable, informed by comprehensive basin planning. Processes are participatory, rights and responsibilities are identified and protected in law, and improved governance leads to management outcomes that support ecosystem functions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017