The representation of various interests in water-related decision-making and the role of power and politics are important components to consider when analyzing governance dynamics.

The four fundamental dimensions of water governance are:


The equitable distribution of water resources and services among various social and economic groups, and its effects on society. Apart from being unevenly distributed in time and space, water resources and services are also unevenly distributed among various socio-economic groups in both rural and urban settlements.


Efficiency in water allocation and use and the role of water in overall economic growth. Effective poverty reduction and economic growth depend highly on water and other natural resources. The governance structures exert a powerful effect on per capita incomes in many countries.


Equal rights and opportunities for water stakeholders to take part in decision-making processes. Participation facilitates more informed decision making, more effective implementation and enhances conflict resolution. A more effective involvement of commonly marginalized citizens, such as indigenous people or slum dwellers and the recognition as legitimate stakeholders in water-related decision making stands to greatly improve outcomes.


Sustainable use of water and related ecosystem services. The sufficient flow of water of appropriate quality is critical to maintaining ecosystem functions and services that build upon them. Unfortunately, water quality is declining in many regions due to insufficient safeguards in the way it is used by intensive agriculture and in large urban and industrial areas.