Stakeholder involvement in water management is widely recognized as an important component of the design and implementation of sustainable water management initiatives. Despite this, there remains a deep-rooted resistance to the widespread implementation of programs to prioritize such involvement (as witnessed by, for example, the low priority given to the public involvement element of the European Union Water Framework Directive). This paper addresses the issue of stakeholder involvement by first confronting the fact that it is not a water issue, per se. Such diverse fields as economics, agriculture, public health, pollution prevention, business and education have also identified stakeholder involvement as a difficult but necessary component of successful action in their fields. For the water sector, the issue of stakeholder involvement as either a necessity for sustainable water management, or a luxury to be used to complement traditional approaches, is discussed.

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