Suhardiman, D., & Giordano, M. (2012). Process-focused analysis in transboundary water governance research. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 12(3), 299–308.

A good review paper of a series of articles from a special section in the journal.

Current research directions on transboundary water governance processes are noting the role played by actors at scales above and below the formal state level; the formal state level being the traditional domain of transboundary water governance and treaty development processes. The authors argue in this paper that focusing only on the state in defining formal governance structures for transboundary water governance “ignores a myriad of other (potential actors)…and does not explain how state decision-making develops from or influences intra-national power dynamics, as it tends to overlook the scalar relationships and interactions between regional, national, sub-national, and local” (300). These other potential actors allow us to broaden our outlook and understanding of how transboundary waters are governed and shared.

The authors do not contend that actors at other scales replace the formal role played by the state; instead, what we are seeing is a complimentary role played by other actors to the state, which can shape negotiation processes in transboundary watersheds (301). This is evident with the Columbia Basin Trust – a quasi-governmental organization (crown corporation), which represents actors and other levels of government below the provincial and federal state, at the negotiation table for the CBT.

Looking at the role of sub-state actors in transboundary water governance processes provides “an entry point for developing process-focused approaches in transboundary water governance research” (299). A ‘process-focused approach’ has relevance for my proposed research direction, as it “would allow analysis of how various actors strategically shape the overall power interplay and determine the actual transboundary water governance outcomes” (303). In this sense, using a process-focused approach would help me to understand how urban actors influence the outcomes of transboundary water negotiations and/or governance processes. Further, if I am to look at transnational networks of (urban) actors, it will also help me to understand how networks at different scales with various levels of authority (or power?) shape the overall outcome of transboundary water governance processes.

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