Water Policy

Governance (as a normative concept) is mostly presented as better than public policy. It implies stakeholder participation and integration of many sectors involved in the governance of water systems. Normative governance concepts therefore mostly prescribe limited roles of government for better governance.

Dealing with governed and public actions in water governance regimes

The challenge in water governance and management is not in keeping a stable "sustainable" status, but to continuously evolve and adapt to the changing environment, like population growth, economic transitions and climate change. In the water policy domain water governance is therefore regarded as a purposeful activity within network arrangements of players with different perceptions, means and targets. Policies are regarded as dynamic outcomes from interacting public and private players at different levels, on different scales, and with different time perspectives.

The Water Policy domain deals with the governed and public actions in water governance regimes; from river basin and flood management to urban water supply and sanitation. In its research, education, and capacity development activities, it deals with:

  • the formulation and implementation of interrelated top-down (directive) and bottom-up (enabling) policy instruments for the management and development of water resource systems,
  • the transfer, development and implications of (normative) governance concepts and policies for water resources management and development, and
  • the development and efficacy of water management organizations (from international River Basin Organizations to local Water User Associations).

Research lines

Water governance issues are boundary crossing, they are cross cutting scales (field to basin), levels (community to transnational), and time (history to future, days to centuries). Whatever the issue of analysis, water policy research is interdisciplinary by nature and draws on social, technical, historical, political, geographic, legal, and philosophical perspectives. As IHE Delft focuses in its education on mid-career professionals the goal of the research lines is constantly question the applicability of its research outputs in practice by means of:

  • Decision-support systems and information interfaces for informed decision-making and policy implementation
  • New/innovative modes of governance crossing boundaries (PPPs, transboundary management, self-governance, inclusion of indigenous modes of governance)
  • Integration and participation of stakeholders in water governance (focus on policy formulation and implementation)
  • Efficacy of policy and governance transfers (RBOs, water laws/policies, formal institutional settings, good governance)
  • Design and Functioning of River Basin Organizations
  • Implementation of mega-projects (hydro-dams, storm surge barriers)


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