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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 12: Interplay between new basin organisations, pre-existing institutions and emerging environmental networks in the Mae Kuang watershed, northern Thailand

Santita Ganjanapan and Louis Lebel

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


Water management in urbanising and peri-urban regions is complex as it involves many actors with divergent and shifting interests. Effective water governance in these contexts depends on vertical and horizontal coordination, management of conflicts, flexibility to adapt to changing conditions and meaningful public participation (Pahl-Wostl et al. 2012). In many parts of the world integrated water resources management is being promoted through reforms that create river basin organisations (RBOs) to help deal with these inter-sectoral issues, but not without significant challenges (Biswas et al. 2005; Molle 2008). Newly introduced RBOs, for instance, must do their work alongside pre-existing resource management institutions, raising questions of interplay (Young 2002; Mollinga et al. 2007). One potentially important role for RBOs is to convene and support multi-stakeholder platforms. Multi-stakeholder platforms are often promoted as a way to support deliberations. In favourable circumstances multi-stakeholder platforms can help to build mutual understanding, resolve disputes, build consensus and inform difficult negotiations (Warner 2006; Dore 2007).

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