Special Issue "Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Jale Tosun
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Political Science, Heidelberg University, Bergheimer Strasse 58, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany
Interests: comparative public policy; public administration; international political economy; European studies
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Ulrike Scherer
Website
Guest Editor
Engler-Bunte-Institut, Water Chemistry and Water Technology, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The governance of water resources has progressed significantly over the last few decades, especially in advanced market economies. One of the milestones in this process represents the adoption of the European Water Framework Directive in 2000. Over the last decade, however, public and political attention directed at water governance has declined noticeably. One reason for this could be that the regulatory arrangements in place are satisfactory in terms of ensuring that people in Europe and other advanced democracies have access to clean water. Put differently, the problems originally motivating the regulatory process to start may simply have been resolved by the policy measures adopted. One of several alternative interpretations is that other environmental problems such as most notably climate change have absorbed most of the public and/or political attention, giving the scientific community, experts, citizens, and environmental organizations less opportunity to bring water-related issues on the agenda.

The concept of agenda setting (e.g., Baumgartner and Jones 1993; Baumgartner et al. 2006) has resulted in a vibrant research in political science and we are confident that it can help to advance the state of research on water governance. Agenda setting is about when and how issues enter the public debate (discussion agenda) or are taken into account by policymakers with a view to propose policies (political agenda). Simply put, agenda setting is about arousing attention to certain issues. Despite the intuitiveness of this concept, the underlying political and societal processes are complex and when applying this perspective to water management, we need to adopt a multidisciplinary perspective.

  • What is the level of attention for water governance?
  • Which aspects of water governance are part of the public and/or political agenda?
  • Which groups have attempted and succeeded or failed to mobilize attention directed at water governance? What mobilization strategies have the different groups used?
  • How important has been scientific knowledge for increasing attention to water issues?
  • What is the impact of newly developed water treatment technologies on attention for water governance?
  • Are boundary-spanning issues in water governance (e.g. related to climate change) subject to greater attention?

These are the six research questions that underlie and guide this special issue, which aims to offer a discussion of attention and how it matters for water governance. We invite contributions from a wide range of disciplines tackling any of these questions. However, manuscripts that take a comparative perspective and/or multidisciplinary approach are particularly welcome. Submissions may focus on any aspect of water governance, including:

  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Drinking water
  • Waste water treatment and water reuse
  • Water-Energy-Nexus
  • Flood risk management
  • Water scarcity and droughts

References

Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (1993). Agendas and instability in American politics. University of Chicago Press.

Baumgartner, F. R., Green-Pedersen, C., & Jones, B. D. (2006). Comparative studies of policy agendas. Journal of European Public Policy, 13(7), 959-974.

Prof. Dr. Jale Tosun
Dr. Ulrike Scherer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water governance
  • agenda setting
  • public attention
  • flood risk management
  • water scarcity
  • aquatic ecosystems
  • drinking water
  • waste water treatment
  • water reuse

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective
Water 2020, 12(8), 2138; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12082138 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The concept of agenda-setting has resulted in vibrant research in political science. The aim of this Special Issue is to advance the state of research on water governance by alluding to the possibilities for applying this particular theoretical perspective to water issues. Agenda-setting [...] Read more.
The concept of agenda-setting has resulted in vibrant research in political science. The aim of this Special Issue is to advance the state of research on water governance by alluding to the possibilities for applying this particular theoretical perspective to water issues. Agenda-setting concerns how and when issues enter the public debate (discussion agenda) or are taken into account by policymakers with a view to proposing policies (decision agenda). Simply put, agenda-setting is about the process of drawing or paying attention to certain issues. Despite the intuitiveness of this concept, the underlying political and societal processes related to water governance are complex and require careful research designs in order to realize the full potential of agenda-setting research. The contributions to this Special Issue combine theoretically convincing research on agenda-setting with research on issues in water governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Research

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Agenda Setting in Water and IWRM: Discourse Analysis of Water Policy Debate in Pakistan
Water 2020, 12(6), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061656 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This article explores the water policy narrative in Pakistan, and identifies its historical trajectories and influences, as well as the impact of the global agenda setting of water for 2030. For this purpose, water sector reforms in Pakistan are examined as a case [...] Read more.
This article explores the water policy narrative in Pakistan, and identifies its historical trajectories and influences, as well as the impact of the global agenda setting of water for 2030. For this purpose, water sector reforms in Pakistan are examined as a case study. The National Water Policy (NWP) 2018 and Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) reforms are critically evaluated and loopholes identified, in terms of both theoretical aspects and constraints in their practical implementation. The overall analysis reveals that the engineering narrative is dominant in policy circles and large-scale infrastructure construction is seen as an exceptional measure to overcome the current loss of storage potential due to sedimentation. On the other hand, the adoption of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) framework reflects the desire of state institutions to imbue water policy reform with international credibility. The IWRM framework has been adopted as isomorphic mimicry to appease international financing institutions and donors. PIM reform is thus far from delivering the desired results due to ideological battles among new (i.e., the Participatory Farmers Institution) and traditional bureaucratic irrigation institutions. As adopted, the global agenda setting of water, in the shape of IWRM, is a repackaging of existing activities, and prevents alternative thinking in the setting of water priorities according to developmental needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Scientific Scrutiny after the 2016 Braunsbach Flash Flood on Flood-Risk Management in the State of Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Water 2020, 12(4), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041165 - 18 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper presents interdisciplinary research focusing on the municipality of Braunsbach in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where, in May 2016, a flash flood attracted media attention and scientific scrutiny that highlighted the fact that certain aspects of flood risk were overlooked during [...] Read more.
This paper presents interdisciplinary research focusing on the municipality of Braunsbach in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where, in May 2016, a flash flood attracted media attention and scientific scrutiny that highlighted the fact that certain aspects of flood risk were overlooked during earlier assessments conducted by the municipality, such as sediment transport. Using a network analysis and a focus-group discussion, we traced the flow of knowledge through the reported interactions between governmental, private, and academic actors in the two and a half years after the event. From our analysis, we learned that the extreme event attracted scientists to the formal and informal assessment of the hazard and the associated damages. Most importantly, we found conditions under which scientific scrutiny is not detached from but becomes integrated in a governance setting. While it is through this process that sediment transport has become an integral part of flood-risk management in Baden-Württemberg, with an evident impact on the measures already implemented, the impact of morphological changes, as well as large wood and sediment transport, have not been factored into the risk assessment as of yet. These variations in scientific impact on the assessment can be explained by decision biases that can occur when decision makers are under pressure to tackle vulnerabilities and thus lack the time to deliberate in a way that uses all the available evidence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
The Ascending and Fading of a Progressive Policy Instrument: The Climate Change Factor in Southern Germany
Water 2020, 12(4), 1050; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041050 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The climate change factor (CCF) is a precautionary instrument for technical flood protection that was introduced in Southern Germany in the early 2000s. The CCF was designed as a surcharge value to be added to all new technical flood protection facilities, such as [...] Read more.
The climate change factor (CCF) is a precautionary instrument for technical flood protection that was introduced in Southern Germany in the early 2000s. The CCF was designed as a surcharge value to be added to all new technical flood protection facilities, such as dams, protection walls, and retention areas. This paper deconstructs the conditions and processes that led to the creation of this new policy instrument. Following the instrument choice framework, the paper analyzes in a heuristic manner, the institutions, actors, discourses, and decision context that were part of this process from the early 1990s to 2004, when the instrument was introduced. In order to better understand the scope of this regional instrument, the paper also briefly depicts four non-representative cases of flood risk and protection management, where the instrument was either applied or avoided. The article closes with an assessment of the CCF, concluding that the innovativeness of this instrument faded once the overarching sectoral paradigm shifted from technical flood protection to more comprehensive flood risk management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Drought Victims Demand Justice: Politicization of Drought by Farmers in Southern Germany over Time
Water 2020, 12(3), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030871 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Farmers have an important role in problematizing and politicizing drought. Following the argumentative turn in policy analysis, the paper analyzes the process of problem definition by means of a framing analysis, zooming in on four major drought events covered in German farming sector [...] Read more.
Farmers have an important role in problematizing and politicizing drought. Following the argumentative turn in policy analysis, the paper analyzes the process of problem definition by means of a framing analysis, zooming in on four major drought events covered in German farming sector journals that are published by farmers’ associations. The article compares the framing of the four most-cited drought events—1947, 1975–76, 2003, and 2011–12—in order to better understand how problematization has changed over time, and how farmers justify and rationalize calls for political action. Three research questions are answered: What problems are named by farmers journals when describing drought events, and what solutions are proposed? Who is considered responsible for problems and solutions? How has framing of drought changed over time? The paper shows that farmers frame drought as a matter of justice and assert their perceived right to subsidies, compensation, farmer-friendly tax policies, and market regulations by the state. From 2003, drought has been framed in association with climate change. The data findings suggest that there is no post-productivist, post-exceptionalist paradigm shift connected to proposed drought policy solutions. Drought framings appear to be persistent, giving priority to assured farmers’ incomes, not water distribution. Considering the lobby power of farmers’ associations in Germany, this finding helps to understand why state interventions remain the same over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
Open AccessArticle
Civil Society and the Governance of Water Services: German Political Parties’ Reactions to Right2Water
Water 2020, 12(3), 743; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030743 - 08 Mar 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Right2Water asked for guaranteed water quality and quantity all over Europe, and demanded that water services remain in the hands of public entities. Support for Right2Water was particularly pronounced in Germany. The German organisers managed to collect 16 [...] Read more.
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Right2Water asked for guaranteed water quality and quantity all over Europe, and demanded that water services remain in the hands of public entities. Support for Right2Water was particularly pronounced in Germany. The German organisers managed to collect 16 times more signatures than the minimum necessary to be counted towards the quorum. How have the German political parties reacted to the overwhelming public support for Right2Water? To answer this question, we examined the election manifestos of the main political parties, published for the federal elections in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2017, and the elections to the European Parliament in 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2019. We concentrated on one specific goal of Right2Water, which refers to preventing the liberalisation of water services in the European Union. We expected the attention to and positioning of the liberalisation of water services to vary across the individual German parties. Since Right2Water was organised by public service trade unions and pursues an anti-liberalisation agenda, we expected left-wing parties to have laid a greater emphasis on this issue than right-wing parties, and for them to have adopted positions that aligned with the goals of the ECI. Our empirical findings show that a left–right division exists among the parties concerning the attention they paid to this issue as well as how they positioned themselves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
The 2030 Agenda as Agenda Setting Event for Water Governance? Evidence from the Cuautla River Basin in Morelos and Mexico
Water 2020, 12(2), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020314 - 21 Jan 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Policy science has developed various approaches, such as agenda-setting and goal-setting theory, aimed at explaining the emergence of policy shifts and behavioural changes. The 2030 Agenda sets an ambitious vision for human development in times of global environmental change and makes for an [...] Read more.
Policy science has developed various approaches, such as agenda-setting and goal-setting theory, aimed at explaining the emergence of policy shifts and behavioural changes. The 2030 Agenda sets an ambitious vision for human development in times of global environmental change and makes for an interesting subject to study the explanatory power of these approaches. While the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) enshrined in the 2030 Agenda resulted from a process of intergovernmental negotiations, they will ultimately have to be implemented by national governments. Using the case of Mexico, we take the governance of water as a starting point to investigate whether the 2030 Agenda has indeed become a focusing event for sustainability transformation. Building on data from 33 expert interviews and findings of a Social Network Analysis of communications between water stakeholders from different sectors in the Cuautla River Basin, we conclude that major paradigm shifts in water governance in Mexico are thus far rather attributable to domestic focusing events and windows of opportunity than to the motivating impact of globally set goals. The Mexican case also illustrates that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is strongly dependent on political will at the highest level. Ensuring the continuity of its implementation across administrations will, therefore, require mainstreaming and anchoring the SDGs into the sectorial strategies that determine activities at the lower working level of government. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Transferring Water While Transforming Landscape: New Societal Implications, Perceptions and Challenges of Management in the Reservoir System Franconian Lake District
Water 2019, 11(12), 2469; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122469 - 23 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This study investigates the different stakeholder based discourses and challenges around the Franconian Lake District (FLD), a recently constructed large reservoir system in Germany. The construction and operation of reservoirs represent a massive alteration of their natural and social environments leading to discourses [...] Read more.
This study investigates the different stakeholder based discourses and challenges around the Franconian Lake District (FLD), a recently constructed large reservoir system in Germany. The construction and operation of reservoirs represent a massive alteration of their natural and social environments leading to discourses and potential conflicts between a wide scope of heterogeneous interest patterns. Studies have shown that large reservoirs can be an important contributor to water supply, irrigation, energy storage and therefore climate change mitigation on a global scale, which brings these conflicting interests to a broader societal concern. Yet, information about conflicts around existing (German) reservoirs is limited. To assess which issues and conflicts appear on the daily agenda and how they are perceived, communicated and addressed by the stakeholders, a total of 609 articles in the Nürnberger Nachrichten and 22 semi-structured expert interviews were analysed, using qualitative content analysis. The results show that discourses at FLD are predominantly determined by economic factors. Management issues are dominated by discussions about cyanobacteria, which can pose a health risk, thereby impeding recreational use of the lakes and consequently causing economic losses and an image problem for the region. The issue is also strongly interlinked with other aspects of concern and therefore one of the main challenges at the FLD. Due to the construction of the lakes and the evolving strong tourism sector, the formerly agricultural region was subject to a major structural change linking together a very heterogeneous set of interests. The results of this study can help in establishing a management framework to suit all stakeholders and possibly be transferrable to similar projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Saving Water while Doing Business: Corporate Agenda-Setting and Water Sustainability
Water 2019, 11(2), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020297 - 09 Feb 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Organic and fair trade campaigns bring water sustainability onto public agendas, such as for example in the cotton/textile sector. Armedangels, a German company, advertises its t-shirts by arguing that their production requires only 1/10th of the water required in conventional production. This article [...] Read more.
Organic and fair trade campaigns bring water sustainability onto public agendas, such as for example in the cotton/textile sector. Armedangels, a German company, advertises its t-shirts by arguing that their production requires only 1/10th of the water required in conventional production. This article studies the ambitions of such corporate agenda-setters. Methodologically, we develop a framework that contains six criteria and nine indicators, which allow us to code and assess the certification standards. In addition, we conducted semi-structured interviews, group discussions, and participatory observations in order to better understand whose agendas certification is promulgating. The criteria encompass the social and environmental dimensions of water sustainability. Our cases include Naturland (a private organic standard), the European Union (EU) Organic Regulation (a public organic standard), the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) (a fair trade initiative), and the Fair for Life (FFL) standard (an organic and fair trade standard). Our study also looks at the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), which are two multi-stakeholder initiatives that operate on the conventional market in cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The findings demonstrate that organic and fair trade companies rightly present themselves as water policy entrepreneurs. However, crucial aspects of water sustainability remain hidden. In particular, there is a cleavage between the environmental agendas of organic movements and NGOs that are represented in certification and the urgent social water problems in the Global South. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Attention and Water Governance: An Agenda-Setting Perspective)
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