Theme 2: Water governance

Many of today’s water issues, such as drought, availability, flooding, salinization or pollution are not only technical issues but demanding matters of governance. Most water  challenges transcend administrative borders of states and include a wide variety of actors in decision making: citizens, NGO’s, scientists, business, governments, transnational organisations all have a say when it comes to water resource management. Conflicting values and interests between actors, different and competing institutional regimes and regulatory frameworks, current and future socio-economic developments and pressures of climate change are just a small sample of the myriad of factors that complicate water governance. This theme investigates different dimensions related to water governance in three special topics:  


Adaptive water governance and forward looking decisions

Many water related decisions face the major challenge of accounting for highly uncertain long-term developments. Moreover, most governance arrangements are poorly equipped to enable forward-looking decisions and to take uncertainties seriously. Long term challenges such as climate change require including long term considerations in short term decision making without losing the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. Through focussing on learning, monitoring, flexibility and connections across scales, adaptive water governance enables to deal with uncertainties (contact person: Dr Art Dewulf).


Controversy, conflicts and interactive framing

Water issues, especially across country borders, are prone to conflicts , prolonged public debate s and stubborn stalemates.   Frame divergence, including conflicting opinions and different values, is generally considered to  cause water governance controversies. Through interactive framing and strategic interventions, these controversies can be addressed  (contact person: Dr Art Dewulf).


Implementation deficit

Many ideas, plans, and policies on water management are developed, but actual implementation in practice oftentimes lags behind. They often produce merely symbolic effects or result in non-decisions. Many reasons for this deficit have been documented. This track aims to better understand the cause and effects of implementation deficit in an attempt to find ways to deal with the deficit (contact person: Dr Robbert Biesbroek).