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Collaborative water-resource governance in the UK: Understanding network structure and functionality of a catchment-based approach to water-quality management

TINDALE, SOPHIE,JADE (2018) Collaborative water-resource governance in the UK: Understanding network structure and functionality of a catchment-based approach to water-quality management. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Since 2011 water resource governance in the UK has begun to integrate a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach to water-quality management. The Catchment-Based Approach (CaBA) facilitates local partnerships of stakeholders to co-create plans, align actions, and make collective decisions about efforts to improve and protect local river and stream environments. The approach offers potential for the enactment of effective, equitable and sustainable water management, but it is often unclear how such efforts are characterised practically. The multiplicity of stakeholders and complexity of issues and influences contribute to difficulty in discerning how governance change is functioning. This thesis uses a case study of the River Wear Catchment, North East England, where stakeholders have been operating CaBA, to begin to explore the patterns and drivers of actions and interactions that facilitate collaborative water-resource governance at the stakeholder level.

Drawing on the concept of the catchment as a complex, social-environmental system, this research utilises insights from stakeholders and a combination of analytical methods, including a network approach and agent-based modelling, to provide new perspectives on the network structure and functioning of multi-stakeholder water management. A network approach is used to build a picture of interactions amongst stakeholders and to reveal the nature of the new relationships built through CaBA. Qualitative analysis of interview data identifies key influences on the decision-making of stakeholders and the functionality of new and existing networks of relations at three levels; the interactional, individual and contextual. Agent-based modelling is then used as a heuristic research tool to combine knowledge of relational structures with influences on stakeholder behaviour to experiment with potential dynamics of the system through a specific water-quality, problem-based scenario. The combination of these analytical methods allows a more in-depth and dynamic understanding of the patterns and processes of CaBA than has been revealed previously. The thesis ultimately comments on the utility of such methods for creating new understandings of the operationalisation of water governance processes, and for the utility of those new understandings to inform and question the facilitation of effective and satisfactory delivery of collaborative multi-stakeholder water-quality management at the catchment-scale.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Water resource management, governance, collaboration, agent-based modelling, catchment management, networks
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Jun 2018 12:50

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