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New research on urban water governance and social learning 

The sustainable development of cities is threatened by a worldwide water crisis. Improved social learning is urgently needed to transform urban water governance and make it more integrated and adaptive, according to the authors of a new paper available online.

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(Image: Lightwise/123rf)

However, empirical studies remain few and fragmented. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyse how social learning has supported or inhibited sustainable transformations in urban water governance.

On the basis of multiple case studies conducted in urban, flood-prone areas in Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa, India and Sweden, the paper studies the learning processes related to different aspects of water management and governance.

The results show that transformations in water governance are often triggered by crises, whereas other potentials for transformation are not tapped into. Furthermore, learning is often inhibited by ‘lock-ins’ created by powerful actors.

The paper concludes that there is a need for more proactive design of governance structures for triple-loop learning that take into account the identified barriers and supporting principles.

Transforming urban water governance through social (triple-loop) learning

Åse Johannessen, Åsa Gerger Swartling, Christine Wamsler, Kim Andersson, Julian Timothy Arran, Dayana Indira Hernández Vivas and Thor Axel Stenström(January 2019): Transforming urban water governance through social (triple-loop) learning, is available here  

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