Governance, Sustainability and Decision Making in Water and Sanitation Management Systems
We explore the connections between the concepts of governance and sustainability and discuss their possible roles in water and sanitation management systems (WSMS). We see governance as a decision-making process that drives the relationship between social institutions and the public affairs of a given society. We understand sustainability as a combination of spatial, temporal, and personal aspects, and we argue that this definition is more comprehensive than the traditional triple bottom line of economy, environment, and society. We combined these two concepts into a new conceptual framework of “governance for sustainability” that is theoretically sound and arguably appropriate to understand local WSMS. To illustrate this framework, we developed and estimated a Sustainable Water Governance Index (SWGI) for the city of Salta, Argentina. This aggregated index was calculated with data from literature, information from the city’s water company and other local institutions, field visits, and interviews. The SWGI for Salta obtained an overall score of 49 on a 0–100 scale, which fell into the “danger” range. We discuss the advantages and limitations of the method and conclude that aggregated indices such as the SWGI, complemented with contextual information, can be a helpful decision-making tool to promote more sustainable WSMS.
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