Symposium on water governance. prologue: Water governance as a government's actions between the reality of fragmentation and the need for integration
This special issue on water governance pays attention to the aspect of fragmentation and integration from an international point of view. We want to give insights into how different countries - the USA, South America and Europe - are dealing with fragmentation in water issues. This first contribution was partly an introduction on the theme of water governance and the fragmentation-integration public administration discussion, and partly gave case illustrations from the Netherlands (two delta areas) in showing how fragmentation and attempts at integration took place. These two cases illustrated that fragmentation is manifest and attempts at integration are alive, but are often not effective. On the one hand (southwestern delta) integration is sought for through centralization (top-down coordination) and creating one overall formal structure (through legislation), on the other hand (IJsseldelta-South) we saw that integration is difficult to manage leading to crowding out and fading out effects (from central, regional integration efforts to local integration efforts). Points for practitioners Water resources, especially fresh water, will become one of the scarcest resources for humans, societies and ecosystems. In several areas of the world this is already quite evident. A third of the world's population lives in water-stressed countries. Water governance is also crucial in terms of water surplus. Almost all the deltas in the world will face flooding problems, and three-quarters of the world's population live in deltas. The joint starting point for this symposium on Water Governance is the existing fragmentation of responsibilities in this field. Achieving cooperation and integration in such fragmented systems is a core problem in governance.