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date: 19 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) has become a globally recognized approach to water governance. However, the definition of IWRM remains abstract, and implementation challenges remain. This chapter analyzes IWRM from the perspective of adaptive governance, which conceptualizes IWRM as an institutional arrangement that seeks to solve collective-action problems associated with water resources and adapt over time in response to social and environmental change. Adaptive governance synthesizes several strands of literature to identify the core social processes of water governance: cooperation, learning, and resource distribution. This chapter reviews the existing research on these ideas and presents frontier research questions that require continued investigation to understand how IWRM contributes to the sustainability and resilience of water governance. It argues that an adaptive governance lens allows movement beyond the contentious normative debate surrounding the appropriate definition of IWRM to analyze the core social and political processes driving its decision-making processes.

Keywords: integrated water resources management, adaptive governance, water governance, cooperation, learning, resource distribution

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