Tag Archives: transitions

New book out: Water Policy Entrepreneurs + free chapter sample!

by Dave Huitema

Radical policy change is needed to attain sustainable development. Yet policy change is notoriously hard to accomplish and often assumed to be the result of serendipity. But is this really the case, or do prospects for influencing and steering policy change exist?

Water Policy Entrepreneurs. A research companion to water transitions around the globe (Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar) edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink analyzes water transitions that have occurred in the past four decades in 15 different countries, and at the global and European levels. We pose the hypothesis that such transitions are instigated by groups of individuals and ask how these policy entrepreneurs managed to influence policy. It turns out that indeed, many transitions can be traced to individuals, who operate strategically to influence policy. The water policy entrepreneurs influence transitions by drawing from a wide range of change strategies. The results show that policy entrepreneurs should not only be able to develop an attractive policy alternative, but also need to be good at building coalitions, framing issues in ways that are supportive to a new policy approach, and at the exploitation and manipulation of venues.  Clearly, the management of water transitions is a highly political game, and those who would like to take part in that game need to know the tricks of politics as much as the fundamentals of water management. The mere possibility for individuals to influence policy trajectories is a hopeful message to those who face the manifold and urgent problems of modern water management. The timing and use of these strategies should be tailored to the institutional context that the policy entrepreneurs operate in.

You can find a free online chapter sample here [PDF]: Dorri te Boekhorst, Toine Smits, Yu Xiubo, Li Lifeng, Lei Gang and Zhang Chen (2009). “Implementing Integrated River Basin Management in China”, in: Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink (editors). Water Policy Entrepreneurs. A research companion to water transitions around the globe. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar, pp 99-119. This sample chapter was kindly provided by Edward Elgar Publishing. You can order the book online here.

Conference “Experiments, system innovation and sustainability transitions in Asia”

Experiments, system innovation and sustainability transitions in Asia
15-17 July, 2010, AMARI Rincome Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand
*** Call for Papers***
Deadline for Short Papers: 30 April, 2010
Transitions to alternative, more sustainable, development pathways are crucial to human well-being world-wide, but have been more studied with the focus of policy action mainly in developed country contexts. However, the transformative changes occurring now in the rapidly urbanising and industrialising Asian countries mean that this focus needs to shift. Transitions towards more sustainable development pathways are also fundamental challenges in emerging and rapidly-growing economies and societies.
Achieving a more profound decoupling of economic growth and development gains from resource and pollution intensities requires deep-seated social, institutional and technological change. Such change needs to be systemic in the sense of affecting structures and behaviour across the economy and society; what has come to be called ‘system innovation’.
Previous research has shown that system innovation occurs through a quasi-evolutionary interaction between innovations emerging in niches and opportunities for change opening-up in socio-technical regimes. System innovation involves the destabilisation of existing incumbent regimes and their reconfiguration or transformation by new technologies, actors, behaviours and rules. Such processes tend to take time; typically some decades.
The new research challenge is to apply these concepts and ideas to rapidly-developing country contexts. Here socio-technical regimes are already undergoing transformation, but often following models from technologically-leading countries. The question is whether in rapidly developing country contexts we can also identify interactions between niches generating sustainable alternatives and emergent socio-technical regimes that could transform development pathways.
There is preliminary evidence of a great variety of ‘sustainability experiments’ – defined as planned initiatives to embody a highly-novel socio-technical configuration likely to lead to substantial (environmental) sustainability gains – underway in Asia. This conference will focus on the nature and role of these spaces for innovation in transforming Asian development pathways in field such as energy, mobility, agriculture and housing in both urban and rural areas.
The conference will take stock of what has been learned in the IHDP-IT (International Human Dimensions Programme Core Project on Industrial Transformation) over the last years, as well as move forward the new research agenda now supported by the APN (Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research). We welcome an international network of researchers, practitioners, policy makers and other actors who are interested in exploring alternative, more sustainable development pathways.
All enquiries about the conference should be directed to the conference email: it-apn2010@ivm.vu.nl. Information about registration, accommodation, venue etc will be posted at the conference website.
The conference is organised under the auspices of the IHDP’s Industrial Transformation project; APN – Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research; USER, Chiang Mai University, Thailand; Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands and the Jadavpur University, India.

VII. Transitions in Water Governance

What is the role of individuals in steering transitions towards adaptive modes of governance? In this interview, Rebekah Brown (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia), discusses the features of adaptive governance, and the role of individuals and “champions” in mobilizing political capital to create change. You can listen to Rebekah live during the Amsterdam conference , on December 3rd, 13.45-15.15. Interview by Stijn Brouwer (IVM, Amsterdam).

[Interview with Rebekah Brown. 9:37 minutes.]

Associate Professor Rebekah Brown specialises in the broad governance and transition management dimensions of urban water resources. She leads Monash University’s National Urban Water Governance Program and currently engages with interdisciplinary issues relating to institutional development, organisational change and regime transformation in relation to urban environments becoming more sustainable.