Changing water management

Climate & Natural resources03 Dec 2009Amrita Lamba

I just about found some moments of soliloquy to pen my thoughts on what struck me most on the first day of the Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. My focus will be on Professor Louis Lebel’s presentation on ‘Inclusive, Deliberative and Adaptive: Changing How Water is Managed at Multiple Scales’.

In my doctoral research, I look at how one should begin thinking about governments as being good and not as being necessarily bad, as has been putatively averred in much of the neoliberal discourse. This of course enables me to configure what precisely should/could constitute good government (please note that the emphasis here is on the state only and not a network of actors; hence the use of the term ‘government’ as opposed to governance). I then examine several ways of streamlining governance and, at length, look at the sustainability of a novel governance model to alleviate poverty in India. I delve into my research interests only to let the reader understand my proclivity towards writing on the stated presentation, which could enrich my ongoing research.

Professor Lebel began his presentation by stating that the quality of governance is central to pursuits of sustainability and that adapting is a fairly key new challenge, especially for many people and places that have no choice but to adapt.

While the noteworthiness of these ideas cannot be overemphasized, reflecting on these left me wondering: what exactly is adaptive governance, and how is it linked to the quality of governance?

Increasing uncertainty in the world today necessitates thinking about ways to look for somewhat permanent solutions, ephemeral as they may seem. Does this not implicate that we take uncertainty as a given that needs to be coped with, instead of being combated? What is being argued is that being adaptive could lead one to becoming complacent about the role of agency in bringing about change.

For the vulnerable places and people forced to adapt, how crucial would the role of quality of governance be? Could involuntary adaptation pose a challenge to the quality of governance? Importantly, will it then be possible to see adaptiveness and the quality of governance as being juxtaposed to one another?