Project

STEER - Increasing good governance for achieving the objectives of Integrated Water Resources Management

  • Claudia Pahl-Wostl
  • Christian Knieper
  • Christina Aue

Goal: In many places, water resources are at risk because different types of use are not sufficiently coordinated. The project “Increasing Good Governance for Achieving the Objectives of Integrated Water Resources Management” (Erhöhung der STEuerungskompetenz zur ERreichung der Ziele eines integrierten Wassermanagements, STEER) explores innovative forms of coordination and cooperation in order to solve such conflicts of use. The focus is on a diagnostic approach, which can be used to investigate typical problem situations and to develop suitable solution strategies.

Date: 1 June 2017 - 1 May 2020

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Nora Schütze
added a research item
Coordination in the public sector among interdependent policies is considered crucial for their effectiveness. However, while coordination has been studied for decades, conceptual approaches to understand the functional and temporal dimensions of policy coordination are lacking. This paper attempts to address these gaps by integrating governance functions and action situations into the analysis of the policy cycle, thereby introducing the notion of holistic coordination. We argue that this approach is useful to get a more differentiated understanding of where and why coordination across the policy cycle breaks down, and to capture the political economy of policy-making. Empirically, we undertake an illustrative case study of the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) implementation in the Guadalquivir river basin, Spain, focusing on measures to reduce agricultural water consumption. We find that the failure to reach agreed policy objectives of reduction of water consumption can be traced back to the way governance functions were addressed and coordinated within action situations and across the overall policy cycle. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the lack of holistic coordination can be seen as an outcome of deliberate decisions by public actors involved in the policy, taken already at the beginning of the policy cycle. Thereby, expected benefits that agricultural water users associated with the policy have been deliberately increased, while their related expected costs have been decreased. Ultimately, this made the policy objective to reduce agricultural water consumption less credible and the policy more acceptable to water users and a powerful agricultural lobby.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
Coherence and coordination among interdependent policy sectors are considered key for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Literature on policy coherence argues that a lack of coordination may lead to policy incoherence; however, literature on coordination also sometimes points to the reversed causality that incoherencies in policies or in governance functions (functional incoherence) may hinder coordinated policy outcomes; in fact, these assumptions have rarely been further theorized or tested empirically. In this paper, we hypothesize the higher functional or policy coherence, the higher coordination at process level and the higher the likelihood that coordination at process level is translated into coordination at outcome level. We test this hypothesis for cross-sectoral coordination challenges among different water using sectors in six different basins located in Germany, Iran, Mongolia, Spain, and South Africa. At first glance, four cases seem to confirm the first part of the hypothesis for functional coherence and three for policy coherence. It remains difficult to establish causality. Whether functional and policy coherence translate into coordination at process level seems to depend on a functioning coordination body. We further find that functional and policy incoherencies may either lead to coordination problems (in view of conflicts of interest) or even go along with a high level of coordination at the process level, possibly to compensate for incoherencies. Neither functional nor policy coherence change the relationship of coordination at process and outcome level. To explain coordination at the outcome level, other factors need to be considered.
Nora Schütze
added 2 research items
Resumen: En este documento se presenta uno de los seis análisis realizados sobre los retos que plantea la coordinación intersectorial. Los análisis forman parte del proyecto de investigación STEER y se han publicado en distintos informes. La Directiva Marco del Agua (DMA) de la Unión Europea (UE) exige a los Estados miembros que garanticen el buen estado de todas las masas de aguas para el año 2027. Los países mediterráneos, como España, se enfrentan a problemas graves asociados a la cantidad de agua, razón por la cual uno de los retos principales para lograr el buen estado del agua es mantener los caudales ecológicos y reducir la sobreextracción de aguas subterráneas. Las autoridades competentes deben mediar entre los conflictos de interés de los distintos sectores que utilizan el agua, tales como el riego, el abastecimiento urbano y el uso turístico y la conservación del medio ambiente. Pese a las reiteradas peticiones de la comunidad académica y a los compromisos de la clase política de mejorar la coordinación entre los distintos sectores y escalas para abordar este tipo de negociaciones, sigue faltando coordinación. Este documento analiza los retos de coordinación y ejecución entre la demanda y el uso del agua para fines agrarios y demás usos del agua, en aplicación de la DMA en la Demarcación Hidrográfica del Guadalquivir, en el sur de España. Se han identificado los siguientes retos: (I) falta de revisión de las concesiones tras la puesta en marcha del riego por goteo, (ii) debilidades del sistema de control del uso del agua y cierre de pozos ilegales, y (iii) escaso intercambio intersectorial durante los procesos participativos. Estos retos están entrelazados por la dificultad subyacente de imponer decisiones impopulares contra los intereses de actores poderosos del sector agrícola. Para superarlos, se sugieren diversos instrumentos de coordinación basados en incentivos, cooperación voluntaria, persuasión e intercambio de información. En concreto, recomendamos las siguientes medidas: • Aumentar los recursos humanos y económicos para revisar las concesiones otorgadas, controlar el uso del agua y el cierre de pozos ilegales. • Facilitar procesos cooperativos para alcanzar un consenso multisectorial que permita establecer cómo y dónde se reducirán los derechos concesionales. • Ofrecer incentivos a las comunidades de regantes para promover el autocontrol del consumo de aguas subterráneas entre sus miembros. • Reforzar el intercambio entre las partes interesadas de los distintos sectores mediante procesos participativos, especialmente entre los grupos de interés de los sectores de la agricultura y el medio ambiente, y mejorar la comunicación con la ciudadanía. • Utilizar medios de información más inclusivos e integrales en el contexto de la planificación hidrológica. Sin embargo, dado que los retos señalados son sistémicos y afectan a cuestiones distributivas fundamentales, el potencial de los instrumentos de coordinación puede verse limitado. Por tanto, también es necesario que haya una señal clara de la existencia de voluntad política.
This Briefing Paper presents one of six analyses of cross-sectoral coordination challenges that were conducted as part of the STEER research project and on which separate Briefing Papers are available. The European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires member states to achieve a good status for all waters by 2027. Mediterranean countries, including Spain, are facing significant problems of water quantity, which is why one of their main challenges in achieving a good water status is to maintain ecological flows and reduce over-extraction of groundwater. Authorities are confronted with mediating between the competing interests of different water using sectors, such as irrigation, urban water supply and tourism, and non-consumptive uses, such as the environment. Despite recurring requests by scholars and commitments by policy-makers to strengthen cross-sectoral and cross-level coordination to address these trade-offs, coordination deficits remain in the Mediterranean, but also in many other parts of the world. This Briefing Paper examines coordination and implementation challenges between the water and agricultural sectors in relation to water quantity in the context of WFD implementation in the Guadalquivir river basin, southern Spain. These have been identified as: (i) the lack of revision of water rights after the implementation of drip irrigation, (ii) weaknesses in monitoring water use and closing illegal wells, and (iii) limited cross-sectoral exchange during participatory processes. These challenges are interlinked by the underlying difficulty of imposing unpopular decisions against the will of powerful actors in the agricultural sector. To address these challenges, we suggest various coordination instruments based on incentives, voluntary cooperation, persuasion and information exchange. In particular, we recommend the following: • Increase financial and human resources for the revision of water rights, monitoring of water use and closure of illegal wells.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
Der Klimawandel hat erhebliche hydrologische und ökologische Auswirkungen auf Fließgewässer und deren Einzugsgebiete und damit auf zahlreiche Ökosystemleistun-gen. Für ein frühzeitiges Handeln ist eine Reihe von Anpassungsstrategien, Planungsprozessen, neuen Manage-mentkonzepten sowie Instrumenten für die betroffenen Gewässer erforderlich. Im Rahmen des vom Bundesministe-rium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) geförderten Projekts „STEER“ wurden hindernde und unterstützende Faktoren in der Emscher-Region analysiert.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
This paper constitutes one of six analyses of cross-sectoral challenges in water governance. These have been conducted as part of the STEER research project and results are published in separate analyses and position papers. The Emscher River restoration project reveals wide-ranging usage conflicts associated with the long-term revitalisation of the water system for the development of the natural environment. The Emscher was converted into an open wastewater channel in the late 19th Century. With mining activity having ceased in the Ruhr region, it has been possible to discharge wastewater via subterranean sewers and improve the environmental quality of the water courses. This modification process requires coordination between sectors and local authorities, particularly the water, open space development and nature conservation sectors. The completed governance analysis shows that coordination in the Emscher catchment area is already effective, be it between stakeholders at local, regional and national level (vertical), or between the different sectors (horizontal). Examples include forums for dialogue between local authorities, voluntary environmental monitoring during construction, financing options for green infrastructure projects and a GIS (geographic information system)-based tool facilitating coordination between different public departments. The regional water board, the Emschergenossenschaft (Emscher Cooperative), initiates many processes that combine water course modification with urban planning and landscape architecture. There is room for improvement when it comes to involving citizens at an early stage and on a comprehensive basis in all planning and implementation processes in order to increase acceptance among stakeholders. Planning processes should also be characterised by a higher degree of flexibility.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
Despite numerous efforts to promote and implement more integrated approaches, coordination problems persist and impede sustainable water governance and management. This paper introduces a framework for guiding a transdisciplinary diagnostic approach (i.e. a context-sensitive assessment of multi-level water governance, which is combined with a change management process) to address such coordination problems. The approach aims at addressing some of the challenges identified in scientific scholarship and water governance practice by combining context-specific participatory assessments of individual cases with comparative case analysis guided by a generic conceptual framework. The focus is on implementation processes at regional and local scale and their embedding in a multi-level water governance system and a specific environmental and societal context. A coherent approach and formalized representation across individual cases is essential to develop cumulative knowledge and to improve the diagnostic strength of the approach. Based on a broad literature review and exploratory study of multiple, diverse cases conceptual framework identifies a variety of factors that are expected to be important for understanding the performance of environmental governance and management systems. The paper makes explicit the hypotheses on relationships between core variables that resulted from framework development. The framework, including the collection of hypotheses, offers a structured approach for analysing a phenomenon as complex and multi-facetted as coordination. It allows identification of multiple pathways that may lead an improvement or a decline in performance, respectively. The framework can find more widespread application in supporting comparative case study analyses with a focus on improving the understanding of policy implementation also beyond the field of water governance and management.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
The EU Birds Directive and Habitats Directive (i.e. the Nature Directives) form the cornerstone of the EU’s biodiversity conservation policy framework. The Birds Directive aims to achieve the good conservation status of all wild bird species naturally occurring in the EU territory of the Member States. This concept is further developed and defined in the overall objective of the Habitats Directive, which is to maintain or restore habitats and species of community interest to Favourable Conservation Status (FCS). Despite the actions being taken to implement the Nature Directives, and the broader EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, the Member States’ most recent reports under Article 12 of the Birds Directive (for 2008-2012) and Article 17 of the Habitats Directive (for 2007 to 2012), indicate that substantial proportions of species and habitats remain threatened or have an unfavourable conservation status. Although the situation has stabilised for a number of habitats and species, little progress has been made in improving the status of most habitats and species (as required under Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy). Whilst there have been many local successes that demonstrate that actions can deliver positive outcomes, these need to be scaled up to have wider impacts that can reverse negative trends and achieve overall improvements in status. This study has been undertaken to help scale up and more widely implement successful conservation measures, thereby supporting follow up to the Nature Directives Fitness Check, including the European Commission’s Action Plan on Nature, People and the Economy. In particular, it aimed to achieve this by: 1. providing a compilation of all Genuine Improvements that Member States have reported with regard to positive trends of individual habitat types or species (covered by both Nature Directives), and, furthermore, to identify the main success factors explaining these improvements (the "drivers of success"). 2. on the basis of the above findings in relation to the key drivers of success, providing a series of ‘lessons learnt’ and recommendations for the Commission and for Member State authorities, on how the above finding should be followed up with a view to enhance and up-scale implementation, as well as to improve the accompanying reporting and monitoring processes.
Ulf Stein
added a research item
In many regions of the world, different water uses are not coordinated sufficiently. This may cause a decline in water quality and/ or quantity, with consequent conflicts among various water users as well as detrimental impacts on the environment. The STEER project studies water issues related to a lack of coordination among different water uses, with a focus on various aspects of the water governance and management system. Applying a diagnostic approach, STEER aims to find out which sets of factors are associated with certain regional coordination deficits. Based on the analysis, the project intends to develop recommendations how the respective situation can be improved through innovative forms of coordination and cooperation. In this way, STEER will contribute to the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management by providing advice for more effective cross-sectoral governance.
Ulf Stein
added a project goal
In many places, water resources are at risk because different types of use are not sufficiently coordinated. The project “Increasing Good Governance for Achieving the Objectives of Integrated Water Resources Management” (Erhöhung der STEuerungskompetenz zur ERreichung der Ziele eines integrierten Wassermanagements, STEER) explores innovative forms of coordination and cooperation in order to solve such conflicts of use. The focus is on a diagnostic approach, which can be used to investigate typical problem situations and to develop suitable solution strategies.