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Implementing Participatory Water Management: Recent Advances in Theory, Practice, and Evaluation

Yorck von Korff, Lisode; Cemagref / Irstea UMR G-EAU
Katherine A Daniell, The Australian National University; Cemagref / Irstea UMR G-EAU
Sabine Moellenkamp, University of Osnabrueck
Pieter Bots, Delft University of Technology
Rianne M Bijlsma, University of Twente; Deltares

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04733-170130

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Abstract

Many current water planning and management problems are riddled with high levels of complexity, uncertainty, and conflict, so-called “messes” or “wicked problems.” The realization that there is a need to consider a wide variety of values, knowledge, and perspectives in a collaborative decision making process has led to a multitude of new methods and processes being proposed to aid water planning and management, which include participatory forms of modeling, planning, and decision aiding processes. However, despite extensive scientific discussions, scholars have largely been unable to provide satisfactory responses to two pivotal questions: (1) What are the benefits of using participatory approaches?; (2) How exactly should these approaches be implemented in complex social-ecological settings to realize these potential benefits? In the study of developing social-ecological system sustainability, the first two questions lead to a third one that extends beyond the one-time application of participatory approaches for water management: (3) How can participatory approaches be most appropriately used to encourage transition to more sustainable ecological, social, and political regimes in different cultural and spatial contexts? The answer to this question is equally open. This special feature on participatory water management attempts to propose responses to these three questions by outlining recent advances in theory, practice, and evaluation related to the implementation of participatory water management. The feature is largely based on an extensive range of case studies that have been implemented and analyzed by cross-disciplinary research teams in collaboration with practitioners, and in a number of cases in close cooperation with policy makers and other interested parties such as farmers, fishermen, environmentalists, and the wider public.

Key words

adaptive management, collaborative decision making, evaluation, interactive planning, participatory modeling, participatory research, process design, public participation, social learning, stakeholder participation, water resources management
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087