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Erik Gawel and Kristina Bernsen

Although the traditional approach in water resources management is to address water-related scarcity problems at the local or regional scale, some see water as a global resource with global drivers and impacts, supporting the argument for a global governance of water. If water is not appropriately priced, or if “poor water governance“ creates adverse incentives for resource use in countries that export “virtual water,“ then increased demand from the world market may lead to the overexploitation of water or increasing pollution. Is this reason enough for a global governance of regional water-scarcity problems? On which scale should water-management problems actually be addressed, and can global action compensate for local and regional governance failure? The paper argues that compensating globally for regional governance failure could cause “problems of fit“ and present severe downside risks.

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Stephen P. Mumme, Oscar Ibáñez and Suzanne M. Till

This article examines the state of binational multi-level water governance along the U.S.-Mexico border. Drawing on the well known multi-level governance (MLG) typology advanced by Hooghe and Marks (2003), the article pro files the Type I and Type II binational water institutions and programs now in place along the U.S.-Mexico border and examines their role in solving recent binational water disputes. The article shows that Type II MLG institutions make a modest contribution to the resolution of recent water conflicts on the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers, enriching capacity for achieving cooperative and sustainable solutions in U.S.-Mexico border water management. Supporting and strengthening the new Type II MLG water management institutions is likely to facilitate greater binational cooperation in managing internationally shared water resources along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Spanish Este artículo examina el estado de la gobernanza multi-nivel (GMN) binacional del agua a lo largo de la frontera México-Estados Unidos. Utilizando la tipología ampliamente conocida de Hooghe y Marks (2003), el texto per fila las instituciones binacionales del agua y sus programas Tipo I y Tipo II que se encuentran a lo largo de esta frontera, y examina el rol que juegan en la solución de recientes disputas binacionales por el agua. El artículo muestra como las instituciones Tipo II de GMN realizan una modesta contribución a la solución de recientes conflictos del agua en los ríos Grande y Colorado, enriqueciendo la capacidad para lograr soluciones sustentables en base a la cooperación para el manejo del agua. El apoyo y fortalecimiento de nuevas instituciones de manejo de agua Tipo II de GMN probablemente facilitará una mejor cooperación binacional en la administración de recursos hídricos compartidos a lo largo de la frontera México-Estados Unidos.

French Cet article fait état de la gouvernance multi-niveaux (GMN) et binationale de l'eau le long de la frontière entre les États-Unis et le Mexique. Ce e recherche s'aligne sur la typologie bien connue de la gouvernance multi-niveaux proposée par Hooghe et Marks (2003). Elle décrit les types I et II des institutions binationales de l'eau, ainsi que les programmes actuellement réalisés le long de la frontière américano-mexicaine, tout en examinant leur rôle dans la résolution des conflits binationaux récents portant sur l'eau. L'article montre que les institutions multiniveaux de type II apportent une modeste contribution à la résolution des conflits récents au sujet des fleuves Rio Grande et Colorado, avec pour conséquence que la gestion des eaux transfrontalières entre les États-Unis et le Mexique voit un renforcement de ses compétences pour apporter des solutions coopératives et durables. Encourager et renforcer les institutions de gestion de l'eau de nouveau type II de la gouvernance multiniveaux est à même de faciliter une plus grande coopération binationale en termes de gestion des ressources aquatiques internationales, le long de la frontière entre les États-Unis et le Mexique.

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Julia Baird, Ryan Plummer, Diane Dupont and Blair Carter

Drinking water quality problems are persistent and challenging for many of Canada's First Nations communities despite past and ongoing initiatives to improve the situation. These initiatives have often been employed without consideration for understanding the social context that is so critical for the development of appropriate water governance approaches. This article offers insights about the relationship between institutions for water governance and perceptions in three Ontario First Nations communities. Similarities among communities were particularly noticeable for gender where women valued water more highly and were less content with water quality. The findings presented here highlight potential impacts of displacement, gender, and water sources on perceptions of water quality and offer initial insights that indicate the need for further research to consider the potential for adaptive governance approaches that enhance fit between problem and social contexts.

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Neoliberal Water Management

Trends, Limitations, Reformulations

Kathryn Furlong

The impact of neoliberal policy reform on water management has been a topic of significant debate since the mid-1980s. On one side, a number of organizations have generated an abundant literature in support of neoliberal reforms to solve a range of water governance challenges. To improve water efficiency, allocation, and management, supporters have advocated the introduction and/or strengthening of market mechanisms, private sector ownership and operation, and business-like administration. Other individuals and groups have responded critically to the prescribed reforms, which rarely delivered the predicted results or became fully actualized. This article endeavors to articulate the varying sets of claims, to analyze the trends, to test them against their forecasted benefits, and to examine certain prominent proposals for reforming the reforms. The water sector experience with neoliberalization reveals several sets of contradictions within the neoliberal program, and these are discussed in the final section of the article.

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Joyce Valdovinos

The provision of water services has traditionally been considered a responsibility of the state. During the late 1980s, the private sector emerged as a key actor in the provision of public services. Mexico City was no exception to this trend and public authorities awarded service contracts to four private consortia in 1993. Through consideration of this case study, two main questions arise: First, why do public authorities establish partnerships with the private sector? Second, what are the implications of these partnerships for water governance? This article focuses, on the one hand, on the conceptual debate of water as a public and/or private good, while identifying new trends and strategies carried out by private operators. On the other hand, it analyzes the role of the state and its relationships with other actors through a governance model characterized by partnerships and multilevel networks.

Spanish La provisión del servicio del agua ha sido tradicionalmente considerada como una responsabilidad del Estado. A finales de la década de 1980, el sector privado emerge como un actor clave en el suministro de servicios públicos. La ciudad de México no escapa a esta tendencia y en 1993 las autoridades públicas firman contratos de servicios con cuatro consorcios privados. A través de este estudio de caso, dos preguntas son planteadas: ¿Por qué las autoridades públicas establecen partenariados con el sector privado? ¿Cuáles son las implicaciones de dichos partenariados en la gobernanza del agua? Este artículo aborda por una parte, el debate conceptual del agua como bien público y/o privado, identificando nuevas tendencias y estrategias de los operadores privados. Por otra parte, se analizan el rol y las relaciones del Estado con otros actores a través de un modelo de gobernanza, definido en términos de partenariados y redes multi-niveles.

French Les services de l'eau ont été traditionnellement considérés comme une responsabilité de l'État. À la fin des années 1980, le secteur privé est apparu comme un acteur clé dans la fourniture de certains services publics. La ville de Mexico n'a pas échappé à cette tendance et en 1993, les autorités publiques ont signé des contrats de services avec quatre consortiums privés. À travers cette étude de cas, nous nous interrogerons sur deux aspects : pourquoi les autorités publiques établissentelles des partenariats avec le secteur privé ? Quelles sont les implications de ces partenariats sur la gouvernance de l'eau ? Cet article s'intéresse, d'une part, au débat conceptuel sur l'eau en tant que bien public et/ou privé, en identifiant les tendances nouvelles et les stratégies menées par les opérateurs privés. D'autre part y sont analysés le rôle de l'État et ses relations avec d'autres acteurs à travers un modèle de gouvernance, défini en termes de partenariats, et des réseaux multi-niveaux.

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Ronlyn Duncan

The question posed in this article is how shifts in governance ushered in by the sustainability paradigm are reshaping knowledge governance. Drawing on constructivist theories of knowledge, I examine the tension between the sustainability mandate to open up knowledge making to local knowledge, and conventional science policy practice that would see it excluded. I present a water management case study from New Zealand's South Island region of Canterbury, where communities are involved in establishing catchment nutrient limits to manage land use and water quality. It is concluded that although local knowledge was embraced within the knowledge-making process, the pursuit of epistemic authority led to its recalibration, aggregation, and standardization. As such, it was stripped of its complexity. This research highlights the role of politics in anchoring the linear knowledge governance model in place and the challenge for supplanting it.

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Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation

Perspectives from a Century of Water Resources Development

Clive Agnew and Philip Woodhouse

The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the influential Stern Report both reinforce the warming of the earth's climate system. The alarming environmental, social, and economic consequences of this trend call for immediate action from individuals, institutions, and governments. This article identifies parallels between the problem of adaptive management presented by climate change and an earlier 'global water crisis'. It explores how adaptive strategies have successively emphasized three different principles, based on science, economics, and politics/institutions. The article contends that the close association between climate change and water resources development enables a comparative analysis to be made between the strategies that have been adopted for the latter over the last 100 years. It argues that the experience of water resources development suggests a strong interdependence between the three principles and concludes that conceptualizing them as different dimensions of a single governance framework is necessary to meet the challenge of climate change adaptation.

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Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

Regions & Cohesion aims to foster dialogue on the human and environmental impacts of regional integration processes. The mission of the journal is purposely defined broadly so as to create as wide an inter-regional dialogue as possible on issues affecting communities throughout the world. As the introduction to the first issue of volume one clearly stated, our goal is move people rather than territories to the center of debates on regional integration.

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Le bassin transfrontalier

Emergence, construction et itinéraire d'un concept

Stéphane Ghiotti

This article presents a critical analysis and a historical perspective on the transboundary river basin concept. It focuses on two key moments based on an analysis of the publications on the topic on the web of science database. The first one illustrates the emergence of the concept in the early 1990s and its place in the literature which emphasizes the internationalization of the water management process. In order to demonstrate this phenomenon, the article follows an itinerary among several scientific disciplines from hard sciences (hydrology, ecology) and soft sciences (law, political sciences). The second part of the article is devoted to explaining how the territory of transboundary basins is a social and political construct that illustrates profound changes in the development of international river basins and the influence of international donors, and finally promotes the model of integrated water resources management (IWRM) at the international level.

Spanish Este artículo presenta un análisis crítico del concepto de cuenca transfronteriza (transboundary river basin) usando una perspectiva histórica. Gracias al desarrollo de un análisis cuantitativo realizado a publicaciones que abordan esta temática, disponibles en el portal Web of Science, el texto determina dos conclusiones principales. En primer lugar, a través de un análisis crítico sobre la literatura referente al proceso de internacionalización de la gestión del agua, el artículo encuentra que la emergencia del concepto tuvo su origen a principio de los años noventa. En un segundo lugar, el artículo explica el territorio de la cuenca transfronteriza como una construcción social y política mostrando así los cambios profundos en la valorización de los ríos y de las cuencas internacionales, la influencia de los organismos e instituciones y, en esta escala, la promoción del modelo de la Gestión Integrada de los Recursos Hídricos (GIRH)..

French L'article présente une analyse critique et une mise en perspective historique du concept de bassin versant transfrontalier (transboundary river basin). Il se propose de privilégier deux moments clés en s'appuyant sur une analyse quantitative des publications concernant cette thématique sur le site Web of science. Le premier temps illustre l'émergence du concept au début des années 1990 ainsi que sa place dans la littérature pour témoigner du processus d'internationalisation de la gestion de l'eau. Pour ce faire, l'article retrace son itinéraire et sa circulation entre diverses disciplines scientifiques relevant à la fois des sciences dites dures (hydrologie, écologie) et des sciences humaines et sociales (droit, sciences politique). La seconde partie se consacre à expliquer en quoi le territoire du bassin transfrontalier est une construction sociale et politique illustrant à la fois les profonds changements dans la mise en valeur des cours d'eau et des bassins, l'influence des organismes et des institutions internation aux, et enfin la promotion à cette échelle du modèle de la Gestion intégrée des ressources en eau (GIRE).

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Niki Frantzeskaki, Jill Slinger, Heleen Vreugdenhil and Els van Daalen

This article presents the reframing of flood management practices in the light of social-ecological systems governance. It presents an exploratory theoretical analysis of social-ecological systems (SES) governance complemented by insights from case study analysis. It identifies a mismatch between the goals of the underlying ecosystem paradigms and their manifestation in management practice. The Polder Altenheim case study is an illustration of the consequences of flood management practices that do not match their underlying paradigm. The article recommends two institutional arrangements that will allow institutions to increase their capacity to co-evolve with SES dynamics: (a) institutional arrangements to ensure and enable openness in actor participation, and (b) institutional arrangements to enable updating of the management practices in response to SES dynamics.