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About this Database

This web database serves to investigate water governance in river basins around the world. It is based on a questionnaire from the Twin2Go project and allows to collect and retrieve case study data with regard to numerous aspects of a case's water governance regime, its performance as well as the environmental and socio-economic context. A comparative case study analysis has brought about fascinating findings, and the inclusion of more case studies is expected to facilitate further insights water governance.

The sections below provide information about the Twin2Go project, the questionnaire underlying this database, the analysis approaches as well as the main results up to now.

The Twin2Go Project

The Twin2Go project (Coordinating Twinning partnerships towards more adaptive Governance in river basins) was a European research project, which ran from 2009 to 2011 under the 7th Framework Programme. Its main focus was on adaptive water governance in the context of climate change.

Over the past years, the EU has funded several projects that undertook research on specific Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) issues in case studies carried out on twinned river basins from Europe as well as developing countries and emerging economies. Twin2Go reviewed, assessed, synthesised and consolidated outcomes of these projects. More specifically, Twin2Go performed a comparative analysis of case studies from diverse projects in order to gain insights into water governance. The overall objectives were to find out (1) which effects various water governance characteristics (e.g. polycentric distribution of power, basin principle) have on the performance of water management and (2) which role environmental and socio-economic context factors (e.g. watershed modification societal development) play in this respect. A thematic focus of the survey was on adaptive water governance in the light of climate change, i.e. what aspects of a water governance regime support climate change adaptation. In order to achieve its objectives, Twin2Go elaborated a questionnaire that allows for comparative analyses. Twin2Go collected data about 29 case studies from Europe, Africa, South and Southeast Asia as well as Latin America in close cooperation with external case study experts. The analyses resulted in fascinating findings about the impacts of water governance characteristics on water management performance and about the role of context

For more information about Twin2Go, see http://www.twin2go.uos.de/

The Questionnaire
Within the scope of the survey on water governance, a distinction is made between water governance regime, performance and context. The context, in which a water governance regime is embedded, can have a strong influence on the regime and its performance. Hence similar institutional reforms may lead to quite different outcomes as a consequence of the context. To move away from simplistic panaceas, context variables need to be taken into account.

This database is based on a questionnaire from the Twin2Go project, which allows to collect case study data from river basins around the world. The questionnaire makes use of a comprehensive scoring system, which allows an easier comparison of heterogeneous river basins. It comprises 80 indicators in three sections: (1) Water Governance Regime, (2) Context and (3) Performance.
  • The section Water Governance Regime focuses on specific water governance characteristics in a case study. It deals with the regulatory framework, actor networks as well as power relationships. Furthermore, it deals with interaction patterns across administrative levels.
  • The Context section addresses the societal and environmental dimensions in a case study like water availability and the state of economic development.
  • The Performance section measures the impacts of water governance and management. It deals with progress made towards water-related Millennium Development Goals, the implementation of Good Governance Principles in practice, stakeholder participation, response to climate change, water management practice and the state of the environment.
A case study is considered to be a national river basin, respectively a national basin part of the basin in case of transboundary rivers.

The case study data form the basis for testing hypotheses about factors that influence the success or failure of water governance.

For more information about the questionnaire, see Deliverable 1.3 of the Twin2Go project: https://www.twin2go.uni-osnabrueck.de/approach/work-package-1.html

Previous Data Collection
Following the development of the questionnaire, Twin2Go hosted five Case Study Review Workshops to collect data about case studies from the twinning projects BRAHMATWIN, WETwin, CABRI-Volga, ASEM WaterNet, NeWater, TWINLATIN and TwinBas. The workshops brought together an international mix of scientists and representatives from government, river basin organisations, business, civil society and non-governmental organisations, as well as Twin2Go team members. Additional post-processing helped to close data gaps and to improve the quality of the collected data. In total, over a hundred experts participated in data collection and provided information for 29 case studies from Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Case study data, which were collected during the Twin2Go project, have been transferred to the database.

For more information about previous data collection, see Deliverable 2.1 of the Twin2Go project: https://www.twin2go.uni-osnabrueck.de/approach/work-package-2.html

Analysis Approaches
Various hypotheses were formulated to guide the comparative analysis of the case studies. The hypotheses reflect the most important propositions that are currently debated in water policy on characteristics of water governance regimes and their influence on regime performance.

Twin2Go applied three complementary approaches. The objective was to detect associations between water governance regime, context and performance; to detect and establish relevant patterns; and to identify context-sensitive key factors that enable or enhance adaptive water governance. Each of the three approaches contributed its own strengths to the overall analysis.

Qualitative examination
The qualitative assessment worked with a case-sensitive approach. Cases were clustered in groups that either supported or contradicted assumptions made in the hypotheses, or in groups that did not allow a conclusion to be drawn either way. In case of contradictions, context factors were examined as potential explanations.

Statistical modelling
Small sets of performance, regime and context measures were derived by aggregating scores of individual variables. Composite measures were standardised to values between 0 and 1, and relationships between them were analysed using linear regression methods. Partial correlations were used to summarise strengths of associations before and after adjusting for the context.

Cross tab interpretation
Cross tabs served to contrast aggregated indicators of water governance regime with those of performance and context. The distribution of case studies in these cross tabs allowed the identification of associations between regime and performance, as well as between regime and context.

For more information information about the analysis approaches, see Deliverable 2.3 of the Twin2Go project: https://www.twin2go.uni-osnabrueck.de/approach/work-package-2.html

Main Results up to Now
The analysis of water governance regimes shows that polycentric governance structures, characterised by distribution of power and effective coordination mechanisms, are conducive to climate change adaptation. Moreover, polycentric structures support the implementation of water management processes that actually follow the good governance principles and are thus transparent, participatory, inclusive and equitable, as well as effective and efficient. The capacity to adapt to climate change increases if uncertainties are dealt with in a comprehensive way (e.g. use of scenarios, consideration of different kinds of uncertainties). Innovative ways of addressing uncertainties are also associated with the realisation of the good governance principles in water management processes.

On the contrary, the achievement of the water-related Millennium Development Goals (access to improved drinking water and basic sanitation) seems not to be determined by water governance, but rather depends on the general economic and institutional development of a society. Similarly, no clear influence of water governance properties on the ecologic state within a river basin could be identified. A possible reason is that improved governance structures are usually only established after certain ecological degradation has occurred, and favourable governance structures cannot entirely compensate the damage done. This highlights the necessity to pro-actively establish effective governance systems in river basins where human impact is still low.

The natural and socio-economic context explains much of the variation in associations between governance properties and performance, but contextual conditions seldom confound such relations. A favourable economic and institutional development apparently supports the adoption of good governance principles and improves environmental management practice. Large per-capita water availability on the country-level seems to have a positive effect on the ecological state.

The insights gained in the Twin2Go project provide generic principles for a governance regime's organisation that can be tailored to specific conditions and allow countries to find their own path compatible with history, societal and environmental context.

For more information information about the analysis results, see Deliverable 2.3 of the Twin2Go project: https://www.twin2go.uni-osnabrueck.de/approach/work-package-2.html

Why should I contribute?
The comparative survey of 29 case studies constitutes a milestone in the field of water governance. It provides for the first time clear empirical evidence for the importance of polycentric architectures to increase the adaptive capacity of a water governance regime and its performance in general. It is also a step forward towards a diagnostic approach. The analyses show that simplistic panaceas that reduce policy advice to one-dimensional generic recipes do not hold.

The approach chosen by the Twin2Go project provides clear evidence for the importance of comparative analyses to deepen the scientific understanding of complex resource governance regimes and to develop evidence-based policy advice. Despite the promising results a lot of work remains to be done. The objective for the future is to include further case studies and to refine the survey building on a broader data set. The inclusion of case studies from regions that were not part of the Twin2Go survey will be particularly beneficial.

A broader dataset will allow to bring forward water governance research and to develop further evidence-based recommendations for water policy-makers.

We would be pleased if you could contribute an additional case study to the database.