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The interdisciplinary challenge in water policy: the case of "water governance"

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Esteban CastroORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by CRC Press/Balkema, 2010.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


It is widely ackowledged that the world water crisis is mainly a crisis of governance. However, there is no shared understanding of what “governance” means, how it works, who are its actors. The prevailing conceptions of governance in mainstream water policy documents tend to be instrumental and idealistic. Perhaps the most important consequence of instrumental and idealistic understandings of governance is the rhetorical depoliticization of what is, paradoxically, a political process. The main mechanism of this “depoliticization” of govern-ance” is the exclusion of the ends and values informing water policy from the debate. Instru-mental and idealistic understandings of governance constitute a major obstacle for the scientific understanding of the process and for achieving success in policy interventions directed at tack-ling the water crisis. The paper argues for the development of a balance between the techno-scientific, socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects of water management activities, which may help in superseding the artificial separation of water research and practice in disciplinary and corporatist feuds.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Castro JE

Editor(s): E. Cabrera and F. Arregui

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Water Engineering and Management through Time – Learning from History

Year: 2010

Pages: 259-276

Print publication date: 06/08/2010

Publisher: CRC Press/Balkema

Place Published: Leiden


Notes: E-book ISBN: 9780203836736

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780415480024