A H2020 ITN project

As part of the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 (H2020), the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) aims to support the career development and training of researchers – with a focus on innovation skills – in all scientific disciplines through international and intersectoral mobility. NEWAVE is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN) [1].

The opportunity that an ITN has in terms of triggering momentum for change in the water governance community is unique. The necessity for change and re-elaboration of water governance principles, stronger integration of social and hydrological sciences and profound trans-disciplinary involvement on non-academic actors in science-policy co-development and inclusion of different values and perspectives are challenges that can be faced only with a large scale, highly coordinated and coherent project. NEWAVE will consistently advance state of the art procedures, produce actionable water governance science for sustainable development, and contribute to scientific excellence.

NEWAVE overarching aims

NEWAVE is rooted in the conviction that the rising threats of future water crises and hydro-social challenges, present an urgent need to enhance the global capacity to reflect critically on the current water governance trajectory. In that light NEWAVE takes three interrelated steps as it aims to:

  1. Bring together an excellent trans-national and transdisciplinary network of water governance organisations;
  2. Develop and implement a cutting-edge actionable research agenda on the key water governance priorities and insights for future directions;
  3. Train a new generation of water governance early stage researchers (ESRs) and ensure that they have the trans- and interdisciplinary skills to make significant contributions to both the academic and extra-academic water governance world.

The three pillars (3 Ps) heuristic framework

Vibrant emerging research agendas on adaptive water governance[1], on political ecology of water[2] and water justice[3], on community[4] and polycentric water governance[5] have converged to provide alternative perspectives and solutions to address the complexity of human-water problems. NEWAVE will approach the challenge of water governance from three interrelated angles, problématiques, paradigms and patterns (the three “Ps” heuristic framework).

Each of these three ‘P’ angles provides its own distinct window on the water governance debate, thereby offering excellent opportunities for cumulative knowledge development and training.

  • The first P — problématiques — allows the NEWAVE team to critically probe the nature of contemporary water problems, to diagnose them and to develop an understanding of the socio-hydrological conditions in which paradigms are diffused and governance approaches are tried out.
  • The second P — paradigms — allows to engage with the ideational underpinnings of water governance, making it possible to understand why proponents of certain approaches have come to accept and embrace them, why they propagate them, and how the global circulation of ideas about governance works.
  • The third P — patterns — allows to explicitly uncover the socio-environmental impacts of various patterns and modes of governance, and in turn assess their performance.

The research component of this training network will be guided a heuristic framework (Figure below*) built around 3 overarching and interrelated research questions (RQ) and a number of sub-questions that address the fundamental dimensions of water governance related to the dialectical socio-environmental relationship between problématiques, paradigms and patterns of governance.

NEWAVE Overarching Research Questions (RQs)

  • Problématiques: (RQ1) What are the most important contemporary water-human problématiques?
  • Paradigms: (RQ2) How do paradigms arise, circulate and impact water governance applications?
  • Patterns: (RQ3) What patterns of governance are prevailing in the global water governance arena and what are their outcomes?

Work packages

NEWAVE will address the three overarching research questions in three Work Packages (WPs) (see diagram above), which are organised around the three dimensions that we will tackle: Problématiques (WP3), Paradigms (WP4), Patterns (WP5). These three work packages will be in an iterative relation with the Synthesis (WP6) working package that will create research synergies across the thematic ‘Ps’ research clusters.

List of Work Packages and Leaders

  1. Project Management
    Prof. Jampel Dell'Angelo, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. Training
    Prof. Margreet Zwarteveen, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. Problématiques
    Prof. Maria Cristina Rulli, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  4. Paradigms
    Prof. Jens Newig, Leuphana Universitat Luneburg , Germany
  5. Patterns
    Prof. Dustin Garrick, Oxford University, United Kingdom
  6. Synthesis
    Prof. dr. Dave Huitema, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  7. Actionability
    Dr. Nuria Hernández Mora, Fundacion Nueva Cultura Del Agua, Spain
  8. Dissemination
    Dr. Emanuele Fantini, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  9. Ethics
    Prof. Jampel Dell'Angelo, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Training objectives

The NEWAVE training programme adopts a trans-disciplinary approach that seeks to foster the professional and academic potential of ESRs and build a pathway into high impact careers addressing water challenges, by pursuing five training objectives:

1 - Equip ESRs with skills, experience and networks to thrive as water professionals, anchored in inter and trans-disciplinary understanding of water problems and experiential research drawing on global and field studies regarding emerging water challenges.

2 - Ensure ESRs have fundamental knowledge of water problems, paradigms and patterns, for instance by incorporating training modules on hydrology and water resources, the evolution of water challenges and responses and a survey of analytical tools applied to water governance.

3 - Foster methodological innovation through advanced skills, enabling ESRs to form ‘virtual labs’ to support groupings of ESRs with similar analytical approaches to benefit from specialised training in specific analytical techniques at the leading edge of the field.

4 - Broaden training through professionalization of water governance scholars, providing ESRs exposure to project management, leadership, research communication and engagement at multiple scales from the field to global settings, working closely with practitioners in a range of water settings (water resources planning; drinking water provision; sanitation and wastewater; flood prevention; etc.).

5 - Build a pathway for impact through engaged research and training by embedding ESRs with partner organisations throughout the training cycle, enabling co-design and coordination of research projects, engagement of partners in the training process and communication of research, and the acquisition of hands-on practical knowledge for ESRs.

Expected results/impacts

The consolidation of an actionable water governance research agenda implies dealing with deep complexity and developing inter- and transdisciplinary approaches that integrate the different kinds of expertise, divergent perspectives and pluralities of knowledge related to how societies deal with water resources. This project is based on the awareness that water governance is a multigenerational, politically sensitive, socio-environmental challenge which requires the involvement of policy makers, civil society actors, entrepreneurs and scientists from different disciplines. NEWAVE will address this urgent socio-environmental need and train future ESRs to become leading figures in the academic, policy, private and civil society sectors by:

  • Understanding the multi-scalar, competing and multi-dimensional processes that characterize sociohydrological dynamics;
  • Developing a leadership capacity that accounts for the plurality of values, perspectives, backgrounds and interests that influence decision making associated with water governance; and
  • Generating a reflexive and transdisciplinary assessment capacity for evaluating new water governance paradigms and proposals.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/opportunities/topic-details/msca-itn-2020

[2] Huitema, D., Mostert, E., Egas, W., Moellenkamp, S., Pahl-Wostl, C., & Yalcin, R. (2009). Adaptive water governance: assessing the institutional prescriptions of adaptive (co-) management from a governance perspective and defining a research agenda. Ecology and society, 14(1).

[3] Boelens, et al.. (2016). Hydrosocial territories: a political ecology perspective. Water International, 41(1): 1-14

[4] Zwarteveen, M. Z., & Boelens, R. (2014). Defining, researching and struggling for water justice: Some conceptual building blocks for research and action. Water International, 39(2), 143-158.

[5] Ostrom, E. (2015). Governing the commons. Cambridge university press.

[6] McCord, P., Dell'Angelo, J., Baldwin, E., & Evans, T. (2017). Polycentric Transformation in Kenyan Water Governance: A Dynamic Analysis of Institutional and Social‐Ecological Change. Policy Studies Journal, 45(4), 633-658.