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The Politics of River Basin Organisations

The Politics of River Basin Organisations

Coalitions, Institutional Design Choices and Consequences

Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink

Can River Basin Organisations (RBOs) actually improve water governance? RBOs are frequently layered on top of existing governmental organisations, which are often reluctant to share their power. This, in turn, can affect their performance. The Politics of River Basin Organisations addresses this issue by exploring the subject on a global level.

Chapter 7: Emergence, performance and transformation of Portuguese water institutions in the age of river basin organisations

Andreas Thiel and António Guerreiro de Brito

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, management natural resources, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


What does it take to make reforms of the organisation of water governance effective on the ground and what are the factors that shape the path of development in water governance? This chapter tries to provide insights in regard to these questions based on the study of changes in water management in Portugal throughout the last decade. Recent reforms were part of the process of implementing the European Water Framework Directive (European Community, 2000) which aimed at integrated water resources management. Throughout the last decade, member states of the European Union (EU) changed their national legislative framework to implement these requirements, and day-to-day water planning and management practices started to change accordingly. By 2009 member states were required to present new river basin management plans and programmes of measures are currently being implemented. The application of these prescriptions by European states provides detailed insights in regard to the overarching interests of this book, namely the study of the politics of river basins and their performance. In Portugal, the requirements of the Water Framework Directive with regards to the implementation of river basin management fell on fertile ground because at the time of the transposition of the Directive its introduction had long been considered by Portuguese water experts.

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