Water Policy and Regulation

We often hear that the world faces a water crisis; what we hear less is that this is often a crisis of Public Policy and Regulation. Regulatory authorities can have a positive and catalytic impact on delivering water services. Water policies and regulation can provide a critical breakthrough in reforming the water sector, catalyzing innovation and attracting investments for much-needed infrastructure and human resource development.


IWA’s work on water policy and regulation cuts across all areas, informing the respective components of our projects and initiatives and connecting those working with policies and regulations to the other key water stakeholders along the cycle, and across geographical boundaries.

IWA has also become home of the International Water Regulators Forum, for short IWRF, “one of a kind” global platform for regulatory authorities and officials with regulatory and supervisory functions in the water, sanitation and wastewater management sector to share experiences and build new partnerships that support their increasingly important role in the sector, in this way contributing to better inform global policy and disseminate good practices. IWA has developed the Lisbon Charter, an international framework of guiding principles for sound public policy and regulation.

The outputs of the 1st IWRF informed the drafting of the Lisbon Charter, an international framework of guiding principles for sound public policy and regulation that defined the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders in the sector (from users to the governments). The Charter was proposed by IWA and submitted to consultation amongst the participants of the 1st IWRF celebrated in 2014 at the World Water Congress in Lisbon, Portugal that gathered 200+ regulators and other key water leaders from 56 countries around the globe.


International meetings

The International Water Regulators Forum (IWRF) series has welcomed high level regulatory authorities with economic, quality of service, public health and environmental responsibilities related to water, sanitation and wastewater services from over 70 countries (1st IWRF, Lisbon 2014; 2nd IWRF, London 2015). Please find more about the previous fora and their outputs in the IWRF Group at IWA Connect.

Outcomes of the IWRF have been consolidated in a series of working papers prepared by the regulators and their academic leads, please find the latest below:


The 3rd IWRF was held in October 10th, 2016 during the World Water Congress & Exhibition, at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in Queensland, Australia.

Other IWA conferences which have a more specialised focus (by subject or geographical scope) also contribute to the broader dialogue on water policy and regulation in the water services sector. The latest was at the Global Water Safety Conference in the Philippines. 

Connecting to the international research community

The analytical perspective of the research community can give insights to practitioners in realising the root cause of the regulatory challenges, identify major institutional barriers, and set the milestone for actions. To bring in this perspective into the global dialogue through IWA’s platform and the IWRF, we closely work with our members and Specialist Groups across disciplines. An IWA Working Group of renowned scholars has also been created to work on public policy and regulation for resilience – see members here.


The International Water Regulators Forum at IWA Connect

Join the Regulators group in IWA Connect – the thriving online network of water professionals worldwide -, where water regulators can find updates about relevant events, and more importantly, can share, explore, learn, reflect, and connect with their counterparts from all over the world.

Latest Updates

July 19, 2017
  Matsue city, Japan, 1 August 2015: “Earthquake alarm!” On 1 August 2015, Japan’s national water day, 32 households in a neighbourhood of Matsue cit...
March 17, 2017
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January 26, 2017
The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is a big and complex event that involves dozens of partners and two years of preparation. Every two years a new ci...
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August 25, 2016
The Manual highlights the human rights principles and criteria in relation to drinking water and sanitation. It explains the international legal obligations in ...
June 26, 2016
Water Regulation in Kenya from IWA on Vimeo.
June 21, 2016
Ensuring water and sanitation services for all depends on securing appropriate financing, an issue that has long been a major challenge for the water sector. Th...
June 14, 2016
The Reliable supply of good safe drinking water is fundamental to a healthy community and to its economic development. Establishment of an effective management ...
February 26, 2016
Water investment at the World Water Forum from IWA on Vimeo.
Carolina Latorre
Programmes Officer