Blog Post #38 – Governance, Management and Policy

Governance, Management and Policy


The Watershed Security Strategy is an opportunity to help shape decisions and actions related to water in B.C. which may include new governance structures, decision-making processes, and policy for B.C.’s water resources. It helps to have a common understanding of these interlinked concepts as all three are essential for developing a Strategy that will achieve watershed security for B.C.


Governance is generally recognized as a process that shapes decision-making amongst multiple parties. What this process looks like depends on a set of norms (or institutions) that suggest how we should work together to address different challenges or situations. These norms are informed by the values and aspirations of society, particularly those who may be affected by a governing body’s decisions.

An important norm considered by the Province as it develops the Watershed Security Strategy is the increased role of shared decision-making for water resources in B.C. In the context of watershed governance, norms and processes are considered at the watershed scale (including rivers, tributaries, lakes, and aquifers, where present). Examples of governance topics may include how we make decisions, what accountability and transparency mechanisms exist, and who has the authority to decide on a management action.


While governance is about the processes and development of rules, water management can be viewed as the application or implementation of those rules. Water management also includes the activities that may inform or result from water-related decisions: activities like monitoring, modeling, exploration, assessment, policy implementation, operation and maintenance, and evaluation. It can also apply to both water quantity and quality issues and across all water uses. In the context of the Watershed Security Strategy, examples of management could include the coordination of monitoring programs, data access, mapping and assessment of drinking water sources, integrating water more directly in land use planning, reducing water demand, and enhancing water supply.


Policy, broadly, is a concise, formal statement of principles, methods or actions that indicate how an organization will act in a particular area of its operation. Policy can be created for both water management and governance contexts. For example, there can be policy created to help shape the types of organizational structures that would be supported by the Strategy. In contrast, policy about management could outline how and where water science data is stored.