Moving Beyond the Impasse
Edited by James Meadowcroft, Oluf Langhelle and Audun Ruud
Chapter 3: Trends, drivers and dilemmas in the transition towards sustainable water management
In recent years we have heard a lot about ‘new’ approaches to water management. Opinion leaders have heralded a new water culture (Arrojo et al. 2005), research projects and legislation are labelled as new, as are policy frameworks such as the European Union Water Framework Directive. All this suggests some break with the past, along with a transition from ‘old’ to ‘new’ policies and approaches. Yet the question remains whether this change helps us move beyond past obstacles in water management, or whether new interdependencies are fostered which create inertia that is becoming even more difficult to overcome. This is a continuing dilemma in water management. Lafferty (Lafferty and Hovden 2002; Lafferty 2002) argues that integration is key to sustainable development, and integration is exactly what the new water management seeks to promote. But without careful management, integration could also become part of the problem. A resolution can probably be found in adaptive strategies that span sectors and involve multiple actors, promote an enabling rather than a controlling mode of governance and provide enough flexibility for adaptive management (de Boer and Bressers 2011).
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