Linking Water Governance in Canada to Global Economic, Social and Political Drivers

PI: Rob de Loe, University of Waterloo

Co-I: Dustin Garrick, University of Waterloo

In countries around the world, water resources are under pressure from numerous chronic and acute sources. Problems such as overuse and contamination persist despite decades of sustained attention from governments, researchers, international organizations and civil society. Improving governance is necessary, but the crucial role of external social, economic and political drivers and forces that operate beyond national borders yet impact governance within countries must be accounted for more effectively. Canada’s water resources and governance systems are subject to these drivers and forces. Some originate from within the larger water sector, but others are linked to decisions and actions in sectors operating at the national, continental and global levels that are not normally considered part of the water sector (e.g., energy policy makers, the banking and investment communities). Hence, in the same way that climate scientists need to understand how climate and water resources in Canada are influenced by continental and global climate drivers, those interested in strengthening Canada’s ability to respond to water challenges through improving governance need to better recognize and account for the crucial role played by external social, political and economic drivers and forces operating beyond Canada’s borders.

The overarching goal of the proposed research is to identify and assess social, economic and political trends internal and external to the water sector that have, or may have, implications for water governance in Canada, and to assess ways of adapting water governance in Canada to better account for those drivers. A distinctive feature of our proposed project is knowledge co-production with key stakeholders and collaborators.