ABSTRACT: The consideration ofwater as an economic resource or as a social good is a complex and controversial issue. In this chapter, the arguments in favour of both perspectives are discussed. The growing visibility, in international and national laws and practices, of a human rights approach to water, is also analysed, particularly in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. The impacts of economic globalization on water and the consideration of water as an economic resource are also discussed, in the context of recent perspectives on water privatization. Finally, the complexities of the relationship between water scarcity and poverty are reviewed by underlining the need of water governance at all the relevant levels, in order to ensure a balanced consideration of water as an economic resource, but also by respecting the human right to water, particularly for the most deprived populations both in urban and rural areas.