Table of Contents

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 14: Institutional design, politics and performance of river basin organisations

Sander Meijerink and Dave Huitema

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


The founding of river basin organisations (RBOs) is an important prescription in modern water resources management. The core idea is that institutions for managing water resources need to fit the scale at which many water problems manifest themselves, which is the scale of a hydrological (sub-) basin. As was explained in the introductory Chapter 1 in this volume, the foundation of RBOs may be conceived as a shift in governance from the nation state to other jurisdictional levels, independent agencies, markets and/or to civil society. One of our objectives in collecting 11 in-depth case studies of the institutional design and performance of RBOs was to better understand these shifts in governance in river basin management. In addition, we wanted to learn more about the relationship between the institutional design and performance of RBOs, and to formulate recommendations for those who are involved in processes of RBO formation or reform.

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