Water management and water uses: public participation, stakeholders’ involvement and the role of science

(A specialization at SOCIUS- Research Centre of Economic and Organizational Sociology/ULisboa-University of Lisbon)

Water is presented in this course as a resource that crosses several boundaries: water crosses scientific areas of knowledge (environmental engineering, hydrogeology, hydrology, sociology, governance and policy studies, developmental studies…) and it  is a multifaceted object of study as it deals with very different actors (e.g a large number of types of users, policy makers, scientists) institutions (in different territorial levels) and cultural elements.

The course will focus in two main objects of study:  1) risky situations linked to water uses and water management, because problems of increasing water scarcity, and also frequent floods or rivers pollution, are situations that ask for new challenges to the capacity of management and individual and collective water uses; 2) the management challenges, related to the European Water Framework Directive requirement that policy makers involve actively all stakeholders in its management, a process that is still complex and not well understood by policy makers and water users alike in progress to most policymakers.  Participation of society in the governance of water follows the progressive democratisation of societies all over the world. This participative democracy has to be looked upon carefully; it cannot only be seen as political technology that could be external to societies and that improves deliberation, consensus and proximity to policy decision. On the one hand, there is still a huge gap in the translation of participation in water issues to actual policy making, from planning to implementation. On the other hand, participation and involvement in water governance has to be understood inside the social and cultural configurations where they happen.

Therefore, this specialization will strength comparison of cases and an interdisciplinary approach based in social studies mainly science studies and participation approaches and dialogic perspectives.While the STS community has looked at knowledge practices in a large spectrum before (e.g. engineering, historiography etc.), the field of water uses and water management has remained quite unexplored. This combination, of different fields (water management and social sciences) is nonetheless an important and relevant issue within the interdisciplinary field and it may shed a different light on certain technical issues as well.

This course will explore the following challenges:

– How can water policy be simultaneously participated and sustainable?
– How can researchers dialogue with users about water issues? How can we join expert and lay knowledge plus different scientific areas in the study of water and its management?
–  How can we link hydrological sciences and social sciences?
–  What does participation mean for stakeholders, i.e users, policymakers, scientist and other interests?

Language of interaction: English

Core literature:
Bento, S., Varanda, M., Richard-Ferroudji A., Faysse N., (2015). Is Climate Change Research Truly Collaborative? Revista Lusófona de Estudos Culturais, vol. 3, n. 2, 2015/2016, pp. 217 – 236.

Bento, S., Errahj M., Faysse N., Richard-Ferroudji A., Rollin D., Varanda, M. e Schmidt, L. (2009), Farmer perception of climate variabilities and change, and of their impacts at local and regional level: the case of groundwater users of coastal aquifers in France, Portugal and Morocco, in Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA).

Faysse, N. (2006), Troubles on the way: an analysis of the challenges faced by multi-stakeholder platforms, Natural Resources Forum, 30, 219-229.

Faysse , N., Rinaudo, J.-D., Bento, S., Richard-Ferroudji, A., Errahj, M., Varanda, M., Imache, A., Dionnet, M., Rollin, G., Garin, P., Kuper, M., Maton, L., Montginoul, M. (2012) Participatory analysis for adaptation to climate change in Mediterranean agricultural systems: possible choices in process design, Regional Environmental Change, Online First, 20 October 2012 (DOI 10.1007/s10113-012-0362-x).

Jasanoff, S. (2003), Technologies of humilities: Citizens participation in governing science. Minerva 41 (3): 223-244.

Mostert, E. (2003), The challenge of public participation, Water Policy, 5, 179-197.

Mourik, R (2004), Did the water kill the cows? The distribution and democratization of risk, responsibility and liability in a Dutch agricultural controversy on water pollution and water pollution and cattle sickness. Universiteit Maastricht: Pallas Publication.

O’Connor, Robert, E. et al. (2000) Stakeholder involvement in climate assessment: bridging the gap between scientific research and the public, Climate Research, vol.14., 255-260.

Rinaudo, J. D., and P. Garin. (2005). The benefits of combining lay and expert input for water-management planning at the watershed level. Water Policy 7, 279-293.

Roncoli. C. (2006). Ethnographic and participatory approaches to research on farmers’ responses to climate predictions. Climate Research, 33: 81-99.

Varanda, M. ,  Bento, S., 2013 Scientists and stakeholders: can two separate worlds be joined for sustainable water management? TWAM 2013 International Conference & Workshops – Proceedings. Aveiro: CESAM – Department of Environment & Planning, University of Aveiro (Portugal).

Minimum and maximum number of students: 3-8

Possible thesis topics:
– Participative methodologies and fragmentation of knowledge
– Participated foresight methodologies for water management
– Stakeholders’ perception of water and policy making
– Perceptions of water in a context of climate change

– Knowledge production in water sector

– Effective public participation in water governance.

Schedule : 8 two-hours meeting at the beginning and during of ESST’s second semester from February to May.

Number of sessions: 2 sessions in February; 3 in March; 2 in April or May (depending of the empirical work)

Already completed theses:

– Terence Lasschuit, Safety Norms in Dutch Flood Defense Assessment’: A transitional and Actor-Network Approach, Master on European Studies on Society, Science and Technology, September 2015.

– Stefano Mele, Abrogative referendum as a tool for public participation: an Italian case study University of Maastricht, ESST Master Specialisation : Water Management and Water Uses: Public Participation, Stakeholders’ Involvement and the Role of Science. August 2015.

– Mali Eva Kuhns, Public Participation in the European Water Sector , A STS reflection on the success of the The European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right2Water’, August 2014. ​

– Karen von Schmieden, A comparative analysis of the Portuguese municipality of Costa da Caparica and the German municipality of Timmendorfer Strand, July 2014.

– Lindsey Schwidder, What lies beyond the river bend? A tale of cross border cooperation in the Meuse and the Guadiana Rivers. August 2012.

– Magdalena Jaehler, A comparative analysis of local stakeholder integration in implementing the WFD in a German and a Portuguese Municipality. August 2012.

Specialization coordinator: Sofia Bento (sbento@ulisboa. iseg.pt)

Team: Sofia Bento and Marta Varanda.