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CA New Water Governance Paradigm

Information sent by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong 7/21/08

CA Water Plan Update: This is the management framework that the California Water Plan is promoting for "governance" of watersheds http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss1/art24/

This new understanding of resource management ties in with recent approaches in the policy sciences. The introduction of the term “governance” signalled a change in thinking about the nature of policy. The notion of government as the single decision-making authority exerting sovereign control over its citizens has been replaced by multi-scale, polycentric governance approaches that recognize the contribution of a large number of stakeholders, functioning in different institutional settings. Governance takes into account the increasing importance of basically non-hierarchical modes of governing, where non-state and private corporate actors (formal organizations) participate in the formulation and implementation of public policy. It thus encompasses a broad range of processes related to the coordination and steering of a wide range of actors by formal and informal institutions (Mayntz 1998, Pahl-Wostl et al. in press). A governance perspective places a strong emphasis on social learning as an essential element of policy development and implementation (Folke et al. 2005, Pahl-Wostl et al. 2007).

European Water Framework Directive (WFD), which entered into force in 2000. The WFD introduces the following innovative elements into European Water Policy:
*An integrated approach expanding the scope of water protection to all waters, surface waters, and groundwater;
*The hydrological principle where water management is based on river basins;
*The obligation to achieve a “good status” by 2015;
*A “combined approach” of emission limit values and quality standards;
*Getting the prices right by introducing the principle of cost recovery;
*Getting citizens involved more closely by prescribing public participation in the development and implementation of the WFD.

http://www.harmonicop.uos.de/ [European model of socialistic river management]
River Basin Management Planning (RBMP) is the integrated cross-sectoral planning and management of river basins, even of those which do not match political and administrative borders. RBMP will not only enable us to improve the management of our international river basins like the Elbe and the Rhine but this new concept also integrates all the interests of organisations and people that use and influence water. ...among others: professional and non-professional public and private sector organisations, environmental protection agencies, water authorities and commissions, local and regional planning authorities, water boards, inland water transport companies, environmental and farmers' groups, anglers' associations, religious groups and finally the individual citizens. Successful RBMP requires not only the involvement of different interest groups but also the integration of various disciplines like social and natural sciences, economics, law and planning.
the context of the management and planning of river basins.


...the HarmoniCOP project revealed that, according to Patel and Stel (2004), Tàbara et al. (2005), and Mostert et al. (2007), social learning processes require:

*opportunities for critical mutual reflection and the awareness and modification of assumptions and cultural frameworks that are taken for granted;
the development of participatory, multiscale, democratic decision-making processes;
*reflexive capabilities of individuals and societies for the development of polycentric forms of resource assessment and management;
*the empowerment of social movements and actors to shape the political and economic boundary conditions that determine their opportunities to become involved in the processes aimed at improving the existing situation;
*the recognition of mutual interdependencies and interactions in the existing networks of action;
*an increase in the capacity to reflect on assumptions about the dynamics and cause-and-effect relationships in the system to be managed and on the subjective valuation schemes; and
*the active engagement of individuals in collective decision processes. This may include the development of new management strategies and the introduction of new formal and informal rules.

In this way, processes of social learning can be improved by facilitating processes toward:

*recognizing the diversity and complexity of the different types of mental models and cultural frames that influence problem definition and decision making;
*building a shared representation of the issues at stake. Participatory modeling can help to achieve a common ground for problem perception among a diverse group of   actors, particularly when the problem is largely ill-defined, although this does not imply consensus building; and
*building trust among the main stakeholders and institutions as a base for critical mutual and self-reflection.

...To conclude, sustainability learning entails overcoming many of the prevalent dualisms that now inform assessment and decision making with regard to the perception and use of social-ecological systems. These include dualisms between the individual and the collective, between human and natural systems, between structure and change, between internal and external system properties, and between human agency and natural conditions. A more hybrid, relational, and co-evolutionary holistic understanding of human-natural interactions is needed.


Natural resources management in general, and water resources management in particular, are currently undergoing a major paradigm shift. Management practices have largely been developed and implemented by experts using technical means based on designing systems that can be predicted and controlled. In recent years, stakeholder involvement has gained increasing importance. Collaborative governance is considered to be more appropriate for integrated and adaptive management regimes needed to cope with the complexity of social-ecological systems. The paper presents a concept for social learning and collaborative governance developed in the European project HarmoniCOP (Harmonizing COllaborative Planning).


In recent years, the notion of government as the only decision-making authority has been replaced by multiscale, polycentric governance, which recognizes that a large number of stakeholders in different institutional settings contribute to the overall management of a resource. This change reflects a more general trend in public policy away from the hierarchical model, in which state authorities exert sovereign control over the people and groups making up civil society (Mayntz 1998). Instead, a basically nonhierarchical mode of governing is promoted in which different stakeholders, e.g., government bodies, companies, interest groups, and individuals, collaborate in the formulation and implementation of public policy (Rhodes 1997).

There are different motives for increasing stakeholder involvement. One argument based on democratic legitimacy emphasizes that all those who are influenced by management decisions should be given the opportunity to actively participate in the decision-making process. Principles of equity and social fairness demand that the voices of the less powerful should also be heard (e.g., REC 1998, 1999, Renn et al. 1995; C. Pahl-Wostl and D. Ridder, unpublished manuscript). A pragmatic approach is to build on the insight that complex issues and integrated management approaches cannot be tackled without taking into account stakeholders’ information and perspectives and without their collaboration. Interdependence between government bodies and other stakeholders is increasing because of, for instance, decreasing government budgets that reduce the efficacy of the traditional command-and-control management style. Collective decisions are needed to implement effective management strategies, and the combination of top-down and bottom-up formation of institutional arrangements may lead to a greater acceptance by all the stakeholders involved.

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