Call for papers: Special Feature ‘The Next Wave in Water Governance’ - Ecology & Society Journal

July 31, 2024

This open call is available in English, French, and Spanish. See the PDF here: [EN], [FR], [ES]

Are you a passionate researcher working on water governance? Are you interested in joining the next wave of water governance global thinkers pioneering this transdisciplinary scholarship? Are you engaging with mainstream social science concepts, applying standard qualitative or quantitative methodologies? Or are you rather engaging with feminist, decolonial, and/or critical perspectives on water governance? Would you like to help address critical knowledge gaps such as  insights from the Global South to the debate on water governance? If your answer is yes to all or any of these questions, then you are very welcome to submit your paper to our Special Feature!

Water is a key element for life on earth and the way it is governed has widespread relevance, including for cultures, biodiversity conservation, agriculture and food production, energy production, industry, and socio-economic development. A persistent suggestion coming from different scholars and practitioners is that the current water crisis is primarily a “governance crisis” (see for instance: OECD, 2011). Addressing them requires a critical reflection on the development of founding ideas (norms, goals) for governing and the organisations, rules, and policies that underpin interventions. Ideally, reflections should provide guidance for the future development of water governance ideas that are sensitive to the context. 

To enrich these reflections and pave the way for incisive debates about the water governance of the future, this Special Feature invites contributions from diverse epistemic and ontological approaches from all parts of the world, and with various geographical focuses and methodologies. Contributions are welcome that reflect on current ideas and practices embedded in water governance regimes: are they still fit for purpose? Authors are invited to submit their contribution within one of the three following thematic areas below:

1/ Problématiques refer to the nature of current water problems in multiple contexts that water managers and society need to address (e.g. transboundary river management, water and irrigation, etc.).

  • Which actors are engaged in identifying and defining water problems?
  • How have understandings of water problems evolved amongst different actor groups?
  • How does the nature of a given water problem affect agenda-setting and policy priorities?

2/ Paradigms refer to the ideas that dominate the conversation about solutions (e.g. IWRM, nexus thinking, etc.)

  • How have water governance paradigms spread at various scales of governance and in various contexts?
  • What counter-paradigms have emerged in resistance to the diffusion of mainstream paradigms?
  • What is the role of reflexivity in water governance regimes?

3/ Patterns refer to the interactions when ideas for solutions are implemented in diverse contexts.  

  • How can scholars move beyond binaries to describe emerging patterns of water governance?
  • What explicit and implicit assumptions are embedded in patterns of water governance?
  • How do power asymmetries affect patterns of water governance, and who benefits? 

Submission guidelines and timeline:

  • Suitable contributions are welcome from 1st of January until 31 July 2024.
  • If you want your paper to be considered for inclusion, simply submit your paper via the E&S author interface and refer to the special feature title ("The Next Wave in Water Governance") in your cover letter. The paper will first be checked for fit with the Special Feature
  • Ensure that your paper is properly formatted. Submissions should include an abstract (less than 300 words) and should be around 5000 words. See
  • When submitting, also select the special feature title from the drop down list.
  • Normal publication fees apply. Refer to the guide for authors on the Ecology and Society website.
  • Contributions must be submitted in English. We will welcome you to publish a version of your preferred language of the whole accepted paper as an appendix to the English version. The authors have to provide that version, and we ask that it is created after the English text has been copy edited.
This special feature is initiated by NEWAVE, a Marie-Curie Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission. Editorial team: Nina Valin (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):; Alejandra Burchard-Levine (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):; Gina Gilson (University of Oxford):; Jampel Dell'Angelo (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):; Dustin Garrick (University of Waterloo):; Nuria Hernández-Mora (FNCA):; Dave Huitema (Wageningen University):; Johanna K.L. Koehler (Wageningen University):