Claudia Pahl-Wostl's research while affiliated with Universität Osnabrück and other places

Publications (109)

Article
Water governance systems have evolved around the exploitation of provisioning ecosystem services. The overexploitation of provisioning and the degradation of regulating services have led to a decline in the capacity of ecosystems to provide any services at all. Decisions affecting water-related ecosystem services are often not made in the water sec...
Article
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Various analytical frameworks have been developed to examine the interactions between humans and nature in social-ecological systems (SES). When studies of SES do not make explicit how a framework is used to build conceptual models, they leave a black box for scholars aiming to use such frameworks. Our study highlights such a process, focusing on t...
Article
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been transferred from the Global North to the Global South. Decades after adopting IWRM in formal policies, countries in the Global South in particular are struggling to implement it in practice. We believe the interplay of formal and informal institutions to be a reason for the failed transfer, but...
Article
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Adaptive water governance involves collaboration among multiple actors, social learning, and flexibility to deal with shocks and surprises. Crises thus become a useful context to assess how the institutional arrangements contribute to adaptation. However, an important part of the specialized literature has focused on these issues as they occur in h...
Article
Reservoirs have been installed as long-term assets to guarantee water and energy security for decades, if not centuries. However, the effect of siltation undermines reservoirs' sustainability because it significantly reduces the reservoirs' original capacity. Extreme events such as typhoons, floods and droughts are posited to have extreme impacts o...
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Summary 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. Water problems in Iran are intensifying and have mostly been left unaddressed. The Zayandeh Rud River, as one of the main rivers in Iran, su...
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The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to lead the modern Anthropocene to a lifestyle that was demanded by the Brundtland commission. Their objective is a common good that does not exploit the planet’s environment and is thus long-term. Though virtually separated, contemporary research shows that the seventeen SDGs are in-...
Article
Avoiding further aggravation of the consequences of global environmental change remains a complex governance challenge. Social relational structure among actors plays a key role for enhancing the capacity of collaborative approaches to environmental governance. We present an encompassing conceptual framework to advance understanding of the mechanis...
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A key factor in the resilience of water and forest ecosystems in the face of climate variability is the management decisions taken by the individuals responsible for them, from public officials to private owners. The presence of economic and other non-material incentives can modify the decision-making processes of these individuals and thereby avoi...
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The notion of a water–energy–food (WEF) nexus was introduced to encourage a more holistic perspective on the sustainable development of natural resources. Most attention has been directed at identifying potential synergies and trade-offs among sectors that could be addressed with improved technologies and management. The governance of the WEF nexus...
Article
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The notion of a water–energy–food (WEF) nexus was introduced to encourage a more holistic perspective on the sustainable development of natural resources. Most attention has been directed at identifying potential synergies and trade-offs among sectors that could be addressed with improved technologies and management. The governance of the WEF nexus...
Chapter
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People and water interact over time and across space as coupled systems. Investigating the resilience of such coupling should take a multi-systemic approach to address not only the resilience in different human and water systems, but also the interrelationship between their resilience processes. Based on the three framings of resilience in the coup...
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Faced with accelerating environmental challenges, research on social-ecological systems is increasingly focused on the need for transformative change towards sustainable stewardship of natural resources. This paper analyses the potential of rapid, large-scale socio-political change as a window of opportunity for transformative change of natural res...
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The social relations and biophysical flows that link water, food, and energy systems are said to form a ‘nexus’. Efforts to steer or otherwise exert influence on decisions that impact upon these nexus links, including to ignore them, take place at multiple levels, vary in complexity, and have implications for who benefits and who is burdened by tho...
Article
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 chang...
Article
Water resources management is far from being sustainable, despite decades of scholarly work to improve the conceptual foundations of water management practice. Arguments have been provided that paradigm shifts are needed towards more integrated and adaptive water management approaches. This article provides a critical reflection on the translation...
Article
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Reservoirs are installed as long-term assets to guarantee water and energy security for decades, if not centuries. However, the effect of siltation undermines reservoirs’ sustainability because it significantly reduces the reservoirs’ original capacity. The present paper attempts to evaluate the global reservoir siltation problem with the optimism...
Article
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An increasing number of sustainable development strategies (SDS) is being developed for cities, municipalities and countries. The design of such strategies is inherently complex. This is a result from intricate relationships between different SDS on different levels, and a large number of requirements that need to be addressed in strategy implement...
Book
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Die Landwirtschaft in Deutschland, Europa und weltweit befindet sich in einem dramatischen Umbruchprozess. Einerseits bieten Liberalisierung und Marktöffnung, neue technologische Entwicklungen, die wachsende Weltbevölkerung und neue Kundenwünsche vielen landwirtschaftlichen Betrieben neue Möglichkeiten. Andererseits stehen viele Landwirtinnen und L...
Article
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The food systems upon which humanity depends face multiple interdependent environmental, social and economic threats in the 21st Century. Yet, the governance of these systems, which determines to a large extent the ability to adapt and transform in response to these challenges, is underresearched. This perspective piece synthesises the findings of...
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Social, technological, and environmental systems have become increasingly interconnected. Integrated problems arising between embedded water, energy, and food systems, require political and strategic cooperation between the actors involved at multiple governance levels. A holistic design approach is needed to guide the inherent decision-making proc...
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The permaculture community is a grassroots initiative that challenges current mainstream practices. Such grassroots initiatives are seen as promising incubators of learning processes that can guide transformations. However, there is ambivalence between the wish of grassroots initiatives to reach people and reoccurring claims of insularity. We use t...
Conference Paper
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In transboundary river basin management, social learning is relevant to support collective understanding and problem framing, addressing conflicting perspectives, and in co-production of knowledge. Still, little is understood about the relational dynamics of social learning processes. This paper examines the relational dynamics of social learning p...
Conference Paper
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, w...
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Sustainability transitions require societal change at multiple levels ranging from individual behavioral change to community projects, businesses that offer sustainable products as well as policy-makers that set suitable incentive structures. Concepts, methods and tools are currently lacking that help to initiate and design transition governance pr...
Article
Learning in project settings may contribute to a societal transition when learning outcomes become situated in organizations or networks that are external to the project. This paper examines to what extent and under which conditions European cooperation projects contribute to such wider learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are assessed using five p...
Article
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Many global challenges, though interconnected, have been addressed singly, at times reducing one problem while exacerbating others. Nexus approaches simultaneously examine interactions among multiple sectors. Recent quantitative studies have revealed that nexus approaches can uncover synergies and detect trade-offs among sectors. If well implemente...
Article
With the notion of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus long neglected interlinkages between water, energy, and food are becoming visible. Yet, the diversity in understandings of the Nexus (as an analytical tool and political agenda) is the starting point for our research interest, stemming as it does from a governance perspective. The contributions of this...
Article
The environmental impacts of agriculture give cause for concern in many areas. This paper proposes a new architecture for a sustainability-oriented agricultural policy that aims to secure public goods, conserve nature and protect the environment while at the same time fostering the transition of the agricultural sector in the face of new challenges...
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Learning is considered as a promising mechanism to cope with rapid environmental change. The implications of learning for natural resource management (NRM) have not been explored in-depth and the evidence on the topic is scattered across multiple sources. We provide a qualitative review of types of learning outcomes and consider their manifestation...
Article
The utilization of ecosystem services in flood management is challenged by the complexity of human-nature interactions and practical implementation barriers towards more ecosystem-based solutions, such as riverine urban areas or technical infrastructure. This paper analyses how flood management has dealt with trade-offs between ecosystem services a...
Article
Given the need for transformative changes towards more sustainable, integrated management of water, energy and food systems, the water-energy-food nexus concept seems highly relevant. However, while intuitively compelling, the nexus has also been criticized for abstracting and thereby dis-embedding the collaboration processes through which further...
Article
Multiple barriers constrain the widespread application of participatory methods in water management, including the more technical focus of most water agencies, additional cost and time requirements for stakeholder involvement, as well as institutional structures that impede collaborative management. This paper presents a stepwise methodological fra...
Article
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Our emphasis is on the management of water service delivery (WSD) and on the institutional dynamics of the actors involved in the various water systems, therefore focusing on the interplay between human society and the environment. Water service delivery in Kenya and Ghana is of low quality and there are weak integrity mechanisms in place, which ar...
Article
Many water related problems can be attributed to governance failure at multiple levels of governance rather than to the resource base itself. At the same time our knowledge on water governance systems and conditions for success of water governance reform is still quite limited. Water governance is a fast growing field of scholarly expertise which h...
Technical Report
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Das hier vorgelegte Politikpapier ist ein Ergebnis des Projekts „ZA-NExUS: Zukunftsfähige Agrarpolitik – Natur erhalten, Umwelt sichern“, das vom Bundesamt für Naturschutz und dem Umweltbundesamt gefördert wurde (FKZ 35158 80 400). Eine Kurzfassung dieses Papiers wurde am 17. Januar 2017 in Berlin auf einem Pressegespräch mit Frau Bundesministerin...
Technical Report
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What can agriculture, policy-makers and society expect from each other? To respond to this question, we are advocating a new agricultural policy based upon a future-oriented social contract with the agricultural sector. The contract includes the continued provision of substantial public funding for the agricultural sector. In the future, however, t...
Technical Report
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Policy Paper, proposing a novel policy architecture for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. Outcome form the ZANEXUS project. Presented during a press conference with German Environmental Minister Dr Barbara Hendricks on 17 January 2017 in Berlin.
Article
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Efforts to meet human water needs only at local scales may cause negative environmental externality and stress on the water system at regional and global scales. Hence, assessing SDG targets requires a broad and in-depth knowledge of the global to local dynamics of water availability and use. Further, Interconnection and trade-offs between differen...
Article
International cooperation and learning may accelerate climate change adaptation and help countries and regions to adapt more effectively and efficiently. Recognizing the importance and opportunities for mutual learning and knowledge transfer, international and supranational organizations, such as the European Commission, have put programmes for int...
Article
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River ecosystems are facing a diversity of threats in many parts of the world. To restore and preserve riverine environments, human societies have established water governance and management responses. However, the means by which a satisfactory environmental state can be achieved in light of different regional contexts is still poorly understood. T...
Chapter
Europe is experiencing a radically new approach towards water management, based on the natural hydrological unit of the river basin rather than administrative boundaries. At the same time, climate change exacerbates the uncertainties in river basin management planning due to hard-to-predict impacts such as sea-level rise, extreme rainfall and droug...
Chapter
Theoretical propositions need testing against empirical evidence. Theoretical breakthroughs have always been informed by an in-depth understanding of the “real” world. This chapter summarizes and synthesizes major results from a number of empirical studies that were conducted over the past decade under the umbrella of the research programme on wate...
Chapter
Governing water implies governance of a complex social-ecological system at and across different scales in space and time. The spatial scale selected for governance has implications for both the biophysical boundaries that are taken into consideration and the administrative level of the actors involved in a governance system. This chapter summarize...
Chapter
The theoretical foundations for describing and explaining the dynamics and transformative change of water governance are weak. This deficit is hardly astonishing if one takes into consideration that the concept of governance itself is still subject to controversy (Mayntz 2004; Grande 2012). Is governance largely a descriptive concept which takes de...
Chapter
The theoretical framework introduced in Chap. 8 is a necessary but not sufficient condition for developing a profound understanding of transformation towards sustainability. Theoretical propositions should be supported by sound empirical evidence. An appropriate research design needs to capture as much of the complexity of processes in governance s...
Chapter
In Chapter 3, I defined adaptive capacity as the ability of a governance system to alter processes and to adapt its structural elements in response to current or anticipated changes in the social or natural environment. Transformative capacity was defined as the ability of a governance system to first adapt and if required transform structural elem...
Chapter
This chapter lays out the major pillars of the conceptual foundations required for improving our understanding of the complex dynamics of water governance systems. After clarifying terminology and providing some reflections on the nature of causality in social systems I sketch out what I consider to be the major building blocks for conceptualizing...
Chapter
Water is the source of life on Earth. Is has been a source of inspiration for artists. People have always sought land for settlements and leisure activities along rivers and coastal areas. We are dependent on water for a multitude of purposes the most important being drinking water, farming, transport, manufacturing, and recreation and cultural. Th...
Chapter
Understanding human behaviour and complex societal dynamics is essential for understanding and supporting transformative change. Such change may often require investigations beyond the realm of observed patterns of behaviour. This chapter elaborates on the potential of virtual and real world experimentation to broaden the scope of analyses, in orde...
Chapter
The concept of governance aims at capturing the complexity of real world policy processes. The distinction between those who govern and those who are governed has become increasingly blurred. Governance processes take place at the interface between state, market and civil society and may take various forms. These different forms are called modes of...
Chapter
Whereas humanity was still at the stage of hunting and gathering having little impact on the biosphere just a few thousand years ago, humans have become a global force in shaping the planet in the 21st century. This transformation has been accompanied by fundamental changes in the perception of human–environment relationships. Still we suffer from...
Chapter
The waxing and waning of paradigms discussed in the previous chapter has also been reflected in developments in water policy. This chapter summarizes major global trends in water policy over the past half-century with reference to scale, dominant rationality and logical reasoning, and the role of different societal groups in shaping and implementin...
Chapter
Many of the reflections on governance in this book do not apply only to the governance and management of water but also to environmental and resource governance in general. Then what makes water so special? Why did I write a book focusing on water and not on resource governance? Water is pervasive—it connects all other resources and other environme...
Article
This paper presents a methodological framework to analyse sustainability innovations in the water–energy–food nexus and strategies for governing transition processes towards their widespread implementation. An application to a case study in Cyprus shows the interrelations of several sustainability innovations in the water, energy and food sectors,...
Article
We introduce a systematic method to compare externalized mental models with a group model resulting from a group model building (GMB) process. To this end, we categorize the various concepts included in the models, and propose Venn diagrams and matrices to demonstrate the composition of the group model and identify the overlapping categories. We th...
Article
Engineers have always had to deal with complex challenges. However, a profound change has occurred over the last two decades with a realization of the need to transition from a focus on technical issues to sustainability problems that require an integrated, adaptive and participatory approach. Such an engineering approach does not only necessitate...
Book
This book offers the first comprehensive treatment of multi-level water governance, developing a conceptual and analytical framework that captures the complexity of real water governance systems while also introducing different approaches to comparative analysis. Applications illustrate how the ostensibly conflicting goals of deriving general princ...
Article
Integrated water resources management (IWRM) has been recognized by many actors as the appropriate approach to respond to challenges in water resources management in a sustainable way. The main players in developing and diffusing the IWRM concept have included expert groups, international organizations, and multistakeholder platforms, which coopera...
Article
Social learning among different stakeholders is often a goal in problem solving contexts such as environmental management. Participatory methods (e.g., group model-building and role playing games) are frequently assumed to stimulate social learning. Yet understanding if and why this assumption is justified is quite limited. Difficulties arise from...
Book
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The global water crisis is often alluded to in scientific papers and geo-political discourse. However, the lack of a proper definition of what the term ‘water crisis’ means has been routinely overlooked, as much as are the reasons why it is assumed to be truly global in nature. Such generalisations and simplifications in both science and policy ali...
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In this paper we compare 10 established frameworks for analyzing social-ecological systems. We limited ourselves to frameworks that were explicitly designed to be used by a wider community of researchers and practitioners. Although all these frameworks seem to have emerged from the need for concepts that permit structured, interdisciplinary reasoni...
Article
To complement this Special Feature on global water governance, we focused on a generic challenge at the global level, namely, the degree to which water issues need to be dealt with in a centralized, concentrated, and hierarchical manner. We examined water ecosystem services and their impact on human well-being, the role of policies, indirect and di...
Article
UN-Water was established in 2003 to coordinate United Nations activities on water. There have been no scientific assessments about this coordination mechanism and, hence, we focus on the role of UN-Water in global water governance. We use an analytical framework to conceptualize relevant natural and social phenomena, actors, and institutions in the...
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Over the past decade, the policy and scholarly communities have increasingly recognized the need for governance of water-related issues at the global level. There has been major progress in the achievement of international goals related to the provision of basic water and some progress on sanitation services. However, the water challenge is much br...
Article
The global water sector is entering a period of profound change as it pursues evidence-based responses to a host of emerging global, regional, national, and local challenges. Simply listing the attendant issues fails to reveal the full picture. Aging infrastructure, demographic change and migration, lack of full-cost pricing, emerging contaminants,...
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Es wird zunehmend wichtiger, die komplexen Zusammenhänge im Umgang mit Gewässerressourcen adäquat zu berücksichtigen. Computergestützte Modelle könnten hier eine zentrale Rolle spielen. Doch die Anwendung in der Praxis ist durch die unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und Interessen von Forschung und Wasserwirtschaft oft schwierig.
Article
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Integrated water resources management is the current paradigm for managing water holistically, but can this^ approach meet the demands of the future? Jos TIMMERMAN, JORN MOLTGEN and CLAUDIA PAHL-WOSTI explore this question. Water management has become increasingly complex over time. Until the late 1980s, it was characterised by clearly-defined prob...