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date: 27 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues for a greater commitment to water equity and a transformation of water governance. Marrying contradictory principles flawed the global water governance paradigm that emerged in the 1990s. Efficiency and equity are often incompatible, and unequal power relations are embedded in many longstanding water institutions and concepts. The chapter suggests that the epistemology of water and the vocabulary and fundamental concepts used to understand water, including its socio-nature and close relation with politics, must be transformed. It introduces five “directional principles” to guide thinking about a transformational governance. It also reviews these principles in light of four real-world cases. Decades of water scholarship provide a critical lens to search for equity, but recognizing equity when it occurs in specific contexts, such as the Colorado River Delta or the city of Detroit, where new networks have emerged to challenge existing rules and power relations, is also vital.

Keywords: socio-nature, transformational governance, networks, global water governance, water equity

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