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The politics of problem solving: A co-evolutionary perspective on the recent scalar reorganisation of water governance in Germany

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  • Thiel, Andreas
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    The European Union's Water Framework Directive advocates, among other things, River Basin Management and is often considered the principal driver of scalar organisation of gov-ernance in Europe. However, since more detailed comparative analysis seems necessary, this paper aims to enhance understanding of processes of scalar reorganisation of natural resource governance in the EU. A framework is developed for analysing the reconfiguration of water governance in Germany, relying on the illustrative case of the Elbe River basin. Drawing on a combination of theories of institutional change, the approach suggests a co-evolutionary understanding of processes concerning the scalar reorganisation of natural re-source governance, which turns out to be neither solely about politics or cost-effective gov-ernance. The framework enables highlighting of the diverse mechanisms of change in Ger-many, which led to a strengthening of the legislative function of the federal state and coordi-nation within basin boundaries, whereas individual states principally maintained an executive function. Upscaling was the outcome of European requirements, ideologically influencing changes in the preferences of water managers, facilitated by changes in use patterns. In-creasing contacts at multiple scales and in newly created fora led to an informal reorientation of water management in the Elbe basin while Germany-wide cooperation was sidelined. In comparison to other European countries, such as Spain or Portugal, where European re-quirements seem more politicized, Germany aspires to compliance with European require-ments in a functionalist fashion. Constitutional decision making rules seem to dominate which governance options are considered feasible and the extent of their potential stability.

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    Paper provided by Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS) in its series UFZ Discussion Papers with number 09/2012.

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    Date of creation: 2012
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:ufzdps:092012
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    1. Gual, Miguel A. & Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Bridging ecological and social systems coevolution: A review and proposal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 707-717, February.
    2. Brousseau, Eric & Raynaud, Emmanuel, 2011. "“Climbing the hierarchical ladders of rules”: A life-cycle theory of institutional evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 65-79.
    3. Brenner, Neil, 2004. "New State Spaces: Urban Governance and the Rescaling of Statehood," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199270064.
    4. Peter P. Mollinga & Ruth S. Meinzen-Dick & Douglas J. Merrey, 2007. "Politics, Plurality and Problemsheds: A Strategic Approach for Reform of Agricultural Water Resources Management," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 25(6), pages 699-719, November.
    5. Andreas Thiel & Catrin Egerton, 2011. "Re-scaling of resource governance as institutional change: the case of water governance in Portugal," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(3), pages 383-402.
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    7. Daniel Bromley, 1992. "The commons, common property, and environmental policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 1-17, January.
    8. Paavola, Jouni, 2007. "Institutions and environmental governance: A reconceptualization," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 93-103, June.
    9. Kallis, Giorgos, 2010. "Coevolution in water resource development: The vicious cycle of water supply and demand in Athens, Greece," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 796-809, February.
    10. Kallis, Giorgos & Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Coevolutionary ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 690-699, February.
    11. Paavola, Jouni, 2010. "Sewage pollution and institutional and technological change in the United States, 1830-1915," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 2517-2524, October.
    12. Bromley, Daniel W., 2008. "Volitional pragmatism," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 1-13, December.
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