Ecology and Society
Published On: July 1st, 2019
Author: Jesse Baltutis and Michele-Lee Moore
Baltutis, W. J., and Moore, M-L. 2019. Degrees of change toward polycentric transboundary water governance: exploring the Columbia River and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Ecology and Society 24(2):6. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10852-240206
Complex challenges emerging in transboundary river basins reveal a need to include a range of interests and actors in governance processes. Polycentric governance is one framework that can address this need and inform adaptive and resilient governance processes in transboundary basins as linked social and ecological systems. Here, we explore whether and how nonstate actors might be contributing to a shift in governance toward polycentric systems for the Columbia River (Canada/USA) and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (Lesotho/South Africa). Using data gathered from 60 in-depth interviews, our empirical results illustrate four governance themes relevant to the emergence of polycentricity in the case study basins: authority, flexibility, coordination activities, and information sharing. Although the emergence of polycentricity is limited by existing state-centric governance regimes, these regimes show evidence that polycentric traits are supplementing existing governance systems, influencing policy processes, and introducing a range of management values.