Management Instruments is one of the four pillars of IWRM. Management instruments are tools and techniques that support decision-makers and water users in making rational and informed decisions to advance IWRM based on the local context and the socio-hydrological issues at stake. The Tools in this section cover a range of management instruments such as assessment methodologies, economic instruments, decision support systems, techniques for enhancing efficiency in water management, and mechanisms for the promotion of social change and dialogue.
Management instruments refer to a variety of techniques and mechanisms that enable decision-makers to take rational and informed decisions (UNEP, 2021). These include the technical, social, and economic tools which can be deployed to assess and overcome specific water management problems, e.g., enhancing water use efficiency, combatting water pollution, and changing unsustainable water use practices. Traditionally, most management instruments were centred on “hard” techno-engineering and infrastructure-based solutions. These included, for instance, the construction of dams, wastewater and recycling treatment systems, and the expansion of water distribution networks to meet increasing supply and demand needs (Tools C3).
However, as water sector professionals began to fully understand the full extent of the cross-cutting nature of water, acknowledgement and the growing importance of “soft” infrastructure was increasingly recognised. For example, economic instruments (Tools C4), which provide incentives for efficient water services, leading to sustainable consumption and protection of water resources, are now popular management instruments in the water sector. Similarly, the importance of data, monitoring and information management systems has been recognised as a bedrock foundation for achieving IWRM.
Additionally, to cultivate, and increase the adoption of sustainable practices and to sustain positive changes in the water sector, understanding water users' behaviours became increasingly important. Promoting social change (Tools C5) has become a key element for management instruments. Through this social lens, we understand and improve the behaviours of stakeholders by using targeted communication. This assists in cultivating the desired behaviour, increasing the value of water (Tool C5.04), and incentivising enterprises to become water stewards (Tool C5.05).