Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 24, Iss. 1 > Art. 28 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
The unique role of municipalities in integrated watershed governance arrangements: a new research frontier

María Mancilla García, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Jacob Hileman, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Örjan Bodin, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Annika Nilsson, Department of Law, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Pedro Roberto Jacobi, Institute of Energy and Environment, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Local governments, or municipalities, play a key role in water governance around the world owing to the many administrative competencies they hold, ranging from water service delivery to urban planning. However, the ability of municipalities to carry out their competencies effectively depends in large part on the characteristics of the institutional arrangements in which they are embedded. In particular, the relationship between municipalities and watershed governance institutions has received little attention in the literature on polycentric and multilevel governance. Drawing on insights from diverse cases around the world, we argue that empirical research must pay closer attention to the links, or lack thereof, between municipalities and watershed governance institutions to improve the sustainability of water governance outcomes in practice. We identify a set of critical issues affecting municipalities’ engagement in governance at the watershed scale that broadly apply across different contexts, and which we argue deserve more attention in future research: (1) disconnect and ambiguities of authority across hierarchical levels; (2) internal and external challenges to municipalities engaging in effective collaborations; (3) barriers to expanding the scope of traditional municipal affairs; and (4) misalignment of biophysical, institutional, and political timescales.

Key words

basin councils; institutional fit; local governments; multilevel governance; polycentric governance

Copyright © 2019 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