The steadily increasing pressure on natural resources has in many regions led to a precarious balance between the needs of different water users living in river basins and coastal zones.
It has been widely acknowledged that catchment areas should be managed as systems, if potential conflicts between competing uses are to be avoided. A consensus is emerging about the need for good governance in water resources management, as it is realised that water crises often are crises of governance.
This research area focuses on the institutional dimensions of water management, and studies the manner in which decision processes are taking shape in the water institutions. Laws, policies and organisations, and to some extent economics are objects of study, as well as the sociological study of claim–making by interest groups and those negotiation practices not formally recognised but historically linked to water management.
Within this research area, institutions with different spatial spans are studied, from local water point committees, through watershed committees, urban water utilities, river boards and catchment councils to transboundary river basin commissions.
The research area also aims to identify adequate and innovative institutional forms that enhance accountability and public participation, from the local scale and the watershed, with its multistakeholder platforms, to the basin scale, and beyond. It wishes to contribute to effective and legitimate decision-making processes.
- Watershed, catchment and basin organizations: negotiating access
- Managing the urban water cycle
- Organizational change in the water sector
Chair Groups involved:
- Water Governance
- Water Management
- Knowledge and Capacity Development
- Aquatic Ecosystems
The emphasis in contemporary water, land and development policy domains on entitlement and rights (water rights, land titles, rights based approaches) demands close examination of allocation principles and procedures.
The water sector amplifies the complexities of legal pluralism alongside informal claims to natural resources. At the watershed scale we study appropriate technologies will lead to an increased degree of stakeholder participation.
At the catchment level we study the involvement of agencies, councils and the private sector in water resources planning, as well as the tradeoffs that may exist between competing uses.
At the basin scale, specific attention is given to international river basin commissions and to the manner in which equitable and reasonable sharing agreements are negotiated.
With increasing global change pressures, coupled with existing conventional water management practices, cities of the future will experience difficulties in efficiently managing scarcer and less reliable water resources.
In order to meet these challenges, there a shift to a more integrated approach to urban water management.
Currently we are undertaking research that analyses the institutional, economic and financial aspects of the entire water cycle in urban centres.
The institutional set up of the water management organisations in small and medium-sized municipalities is investigated as well as the institutional changes required for a sustainable future.
River basin organization and water utilities in developing countries have been subject to continuous reform over the past decades.
Understanding these reform efforts by analyzing the nature of the reforms, its drivers and its impacts (intended and unintended), underlies a deeper understanding of development patterns in the water sector.
What reforms are being conducted in river basins and water utilities and what are the impacts on the management of the water resource? How do decision-making processes unfold in river basin organizations and water utilities? Do private sector participation result in increased efficiencies? How do these institutional reforms articulate with political processes and governance issues?