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Title: Water governance : the politics of the emergence of reflexive-discursive water policy in California, Australia and Israel
Author: Gilmont, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 4898
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis analyses the politics of the dynamic transition from an engineering-based supply augmentation towards a new era of reallocative policy. It identifies and critiques multiple policy instruments and the aims and considerations that inform and shape water resource policies. It analyses the nature of the shifts in policy emphasis, the role and mechanisms of institutional reform, and the existence and character of a discursive policy space. The study provides a unique analysis of three case studies covering the most advanced cases of water reform involving predominantly agricultural water: South/Central California, Australia‟s Murray-Darling Basin, and Israel. All are democratic, economically-diverse neoliberal political-economies, enduring worsening water scarcity. They have adopted new approaches, from the early 1980s, to the use and allocation of water resources, moving away from supply development towards efficiency and environmental reallocation. The analysis draws on in-depth interviews with over 100 policy participants from the four communities of policy stakeholders identified by Allan (2003): Government, Society, the Private Sector (including agriculture) and the Non-Governmental [Environmental] Organisations. The analysis shows that broadly comparable trajectories of water use have been achieved. The reflexive trajectories have been put in place by different, politically mediated, combinations of policy instruments in each case. It also demonstrates that while both institutional and organisational reforms are a necessity for policy reform, the necessity is largely determined by political failings in the operation of the old structures, rather than structural flaws. By analysing the mechanisms of institutional and organisational reform, differences in the interaction between institutions and organisations (North, 1994) are identified and compared. California and Australia have witnessed reform spearheaded by institutions. Change in Israel has been achieved by professional and political leadership in organisational contexts. In all cases, the study shows that while the policy reforms analysed are designed to incorporate a wide range of voices and ideas, the mechanisms of institutional change are exclusive processes; politically entrepreneurial mechanisms based around key individuals are used to achieve institutional change in spite of challenging political landscapes. The research lastly identifies a broadening of policy space that facilitates discursive processes involving increasingly wide coalitions of voices in the policy process. These coalitions are shown to prioritise a commitment to politically sustainable water resource policy rather than strict adherence to the interests and priorities of their particular sector; they are shown to compromise their ideal visions in the interest of generating timely and politically sustainable change. The study identifies an even wider discursive space in which more radical ideas are advocated beyond policy space. They advocate change, or regression, beyond that which is currently politically feasible or desirable. It is suggested that a new sanctioned discourse of sustainable policy has been established in advanced political economies. A new policy space bounds water resources policy options, albeit in a space that is much wider than the narrow bounds of traditional engineering-based supply augmentation. The study concludes that there is much commonality between the three cases. Political factors are always the determining force in policy reform with similar political trends exhibited despite detailed differences in political dynamics between the three cases.
Supervisor: Pelling, Mark Adam ; Allan, Tony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available