Public participation is central to the IWRM discourse and often associated with claims of improved environmental policy outputs and their implementation. Whilst the involvement of nonstate actors in environmental decision-making has attracted scholarly attention from various angles, our knowledge is scant as to the forces that drive organisational reform towards participatory governance. This article sets out to contribute to this largely neglected research area and explores conditions under which policy-makers would be willing to attend towards more participative water governance. Its ambition is twofold: first, to explore the conditions under which public officials attempt to institutionalise more participatory modes of water governance. To this end, I analyse the implementation of the Directive’s active involvement provision in England and Wales. For many decades, water management in England and Wales had a reputation for being a technocratic exercise. In the past 15 years, however, the Environment Agency has made considerable efforts to lay the foundation for enhanced stakeholder participation. Second, with reference to the case of England and Wales, this study contributes to understanding the difficulties that reformers may meet when it comes to building support within an organisation and to implementing reforms towards participatory governance.
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