Pathways towards improved water governance: The role of polycentric governance systems and vertical and horizontal coordination

Autor(en): Pahl-Wostl, Claudia 
Knieper, Christian 
Stichwörter: CLIMATE; ECOLOGY; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; GAMES; Horizontal and vertical coordination; Polycentric governance systems; Qualitative Comparative Analysis; QUALITATIVE COMPARATIVE-ANALYSIS; Water governance
Erscheinungsdatum: 2023
Band: 144
Startseite: 151
Seitenende: 161
Persistent challenges in dealing with water management problems arise from complex interdependencies of diverse water uses. Water-related crises, such as prolonged droughts or extreme floods, may have severe impacts across scales and in different sectors. At the same time, numerous, largely independent decisions in different sectors affecting water resources and water-dependent ecosystems introduce further uncertainties. Conceptual consideration and empirical evidence suggest that polycentric governance systems have a high capacity to deal with such challenges. Polycentric governance systems combine decentralization of authority and decision -making with some kind of coordination of the different (semi-)autonomous governance units. However, the nature of and pathways towards polycentric governance are still quite poorly understood. This paper analyses requirements (1) for governance systems to become polycentric and (2) for such systems to effectively tackle water management challenges. The analyses are based on a data set of 26 cases from developed and less developed countries. Results from Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) confirm the hypothesis that poly -centric governance systems are characterized by high performance in supporting effective coordination. Frag-mented as well as centralized, not coordinated (rent-seeking) regimes show poor performance. The QCA analyses highlight further the importance of high institutional capacity for the effectiveness of formal coordination in-struments. Results show as well a strong interdependence between vertical coordination and horizontal coor-dination. The results from QCA analyses are substantiated with findings from in-depth studies of selected cases from the larger data set.
ISSN: 1462-9011
DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.03.011

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