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The network structure of multilevel water resources governance in Central America

Jacob Hileman, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California at Davis
Mark Lubell, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California at Davis


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The acceleration of changes in global water resource systems is exacerbating the ability of governance institutions to adapt, particularly in developing world regions. We highlight one of the key challenges to resilience in environmental governance—coordinating governance processes within and across multiple interacting geographic levels—and investigate structures of local, regional, and multilevel water governance networks using empirical data from Central America. We examined hypotheses of multilevel governance network structure and function using descriptive statistics and exponential random graph models, and found that closed and open network structures are more prevalent at the local and regional levels, respectively, and that cross-level ties impart small-world structures upon the multilevel network. Small-world networks are theorized to provide joint benefits on cooperation, policy learning, and resource distribution, all of which are necessary for effective water resources governance.

Key words

cooperation; environmental governance; multilevel governance; small-world networks; social learning

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087