Factsheet #23

Citizen boards

Instrument Type


Governance Level


Governance Mode


Water management topics addressed

Drought & water scarcity
Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities
Water quality issues due to nutrient pollution
Water quality issues: Other reasons

Implementation requirements

Financial capacity


Human capacity


Political buy-in


Timeframe for implementation


#23: Citizen boards


Citizen Boards are associations of citizens that facilitate community participation in tasks and decision making.


The involvement of citizens is key for managing rivers in a sustainable way, better co-ordinating public action across levels of government and reducing conflicts at the local level. Widening public participation is seen as a means to increase transparency of environmental policies and citizens’ compliance with it. Transparency in the establishment of objectives, the imposition of measures and the reporting of standards is seen to empower citizens to influence the direction of environmental protection.

Example: The Patronatos in Chiapas, Mexico

Among the different good practices for community-side management of water and sanitation services we find the example of the “patronatos” in Chiapas, Mexico. The patronatos are citizens’ boards and they were formally included in the State Water Law in 2000, with the objective of fostering the inclusion and the participation of communities in the water and sanitation services, facilitating organizational and regulatory and, overall, contributing to the improvement of the of water and sanitation service systems. On top of the positive effects on the definition and the operation of water and sanitation services processes, a deeper participation of the community results in a better collective awareness and responsibility in consumption. Patronatos enjoy their own legal status and have therefore regulatory discretion on the management of water and sanitation. In the State of Chiapas more than 800 patronatos are currently registered across over 100 municipalities. Despite these encouraging aspects, one known problem with citizens boards is that the adaptation of the standard model to specific local can be rather complicated. The scope and modalities of participation can be tailored by local customs and historical circumstances.


OECD (2011). Water governance in OECD countries – A multilevel approach. OECD Studies on water (p. 99ff) https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/water-governance-in-oecd-countries_9789264119284-en Retrieved on 22 September 2020.

OECD (2013). Making water reform happen in Mexico. OECD Studies on Water. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/making-water-reform-happen-in-mexico_9789264187894-en Retrieved on 22 September 2020.

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