Water Governance to address Urban Water Challenges

Water saving week 2018

Good Water Governance is essential to address urban water challenges

How to address our water, waste and climate challenges? Climate change and urban growth are making this question increasingly important. Despite the numerous solutions available, many cities and organisations have yet to find an effective answer to the question. The application of the available technologies and knowledge is inhibited by a variety of barriers. The governance capacity to collaborate effectively and overcome these barriers is essential. This is why most water challenges are primarily water governance challenges. The new Governance Capacity Analysis tool (developed by POWER partner KWR) identifies the barriers and provides cities and organisations with the solution pathways to address existing challenges as effectively and economically as possible.

A framework to assess water governance capacity

Governance Capacity Analysis transforms existing scientific knowledge into a practical assessment. We measure ‘governance capacity’ by analysing how well organisations, multi-level governments and stakeholders collaborate in solving a water challenge. A recent article in Water Resources Management shows the assessment of the city of Amsterdam (see figure). The scores on 27 indicators range from very limiting (– –) to very encouraging (++). This allows one to identify the key areas of concern for the city at a glance.

water governance

The Governance Capacity of the city of Amsterdam: the bluer, the better. the main barriers that are the focus of follow-up steps and solution pathways can be seen at a glance

Water Governance Capacity Analysis: How does it work?

When a city or organisation is faced with a water challenge and chooses to use the Governance Capacity Analysis tool, we proceed through the following three stages:

  1. We conduct a literature study for each indicator to determine a preliminary score.
  2. We interview the main stakeholders of various organisations to refine the scores.
  3. The interviewees and clients can give their feedback on the preliminary scores.

Once we complete these three stages, we determine the definitive indicator scores. We then discuss in a workshop the results with the city or organisation. In the workshop(s) we jointly examine the barriers, solution pathways and follow-up steps, which are then incorporated into a report. For the elaboration of the follow-up steps we offer access to a wide range of applied knowledge and demonstrate our experience with enhance collaborative learning through Digital Social Platforms. In doing so, we help cities and organisations with their strategic planning.

Water Governance Capacity Analysis as a means of knowledge sharing

Besides Amsterdam, the Governance Capacity Analysis tool has already been applied in Melbourne (Australia), New York (US), Bandung (Indonesia), Ahmedabad (India) and Quito (Ecuador) to validate the method. The first results of four POWER Key Demonstration Cities – Leicester (UK), Milton Keynes (UK), Sabadell, (Spain) and Jerusalem (Israel) – are available and form the basis to identify the potential, barriers and opportunities for the broader collaborative learning through the use of Digital Social Platforms in Europe’s municipalities and regions to address water challenges.

At present, the city of Cape Town (South Africa), Taipei (Taiwan), Seoul (South Korea) and have expressed their interest and are analysing their water governance capacity. Governance Capacity Analysis has also been incorporated into the Watershare Suite of tools, so that other researchers can also apply the method in their city or country. In this way we are building a comprehensive databank which offers extensive possibilities, based on practical experience, to gain insight into essential elements that can improve the way we address water challenges. Thus cities facing similar challenges can, in a concrete manner, share knowledge and experiences, and jointly remove barriers so as to tackle their water, waste and climate challenges with maximum effectiveness.

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