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Requirements for and steps towards integrated and adaptive water governance and management

Over the past decade a series of major revisions to the generation and use of knowledge in the context of natural resources management has started to undermine basic assumptions on which traditional approaches to water management were based. Limits to our ability to predict and control water systems have become evident and both complexity and human dimensions are receiving more prominent consideration. Such considerations are of particular relevance for water governance and management. In the past water related problems were generally dealt with in isolation, and potentially undesirable long-term consequences were not taken into consideration. Furthermore, due to their ubiquitous nature water resources are affected by decisions in many other policy fields. However, due to lacking institutional organisation the water sector has to cope with impacts from such decisions, rather than becoming a guiding principle in environmental policy

Many voices in science and policy have advocated a paradigm shift in water governance and management towards more adaptive and integrated approaches. The paper will summarize the current state of insights on requirements for and transition towards adaptive and integrated water governance. It will argue that adaptive governance and management are a prerequisite for integration, for identification of conflicting goals and transcending seemingly irreconcilable trade-offs by adopting a systemic perspective.