Iterative Processes for Resilient Transboundary Water Management: Collaboratively Governing the Okavango for Adaptation

22 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2012

See all articles by Olivia Odom Green

Olivia Odom Green

US Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory

Barbara A. Cosens

University of Idaho - College of Law

Ahjond S. Garmestani

Government of the United States of America - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Date Written: April, 12 2012

Abstract

When the availability of a vital resource varies between times of overabundance and extreme scarcity, management regimes must manifest flexibility and authority to adapt while maintaining legitimacy. Unfortunately, the need for adaptability often conflicts with the desire for certainty in legal and regulatory regimes, and laws that fail to account for variability often result in conflict when the inevitable disturbance occurs. Additional keys to resilience are collaboration among physical scientists, political actors, local leaders, and other stakeholders, and, when the commons is shared among sovereign states, collaboration between and among institutions with authority to act at different scales or with respect to different aspects of an ecological system. At the scale of transboundary river basins, where treaties govern water utilization, particular treaty mechanisms can reduce conflict potential by fostering collaboration and accounting for change. One necessary element is a mechanism for coordination and collaboration at the scale of the basin. This could be satisfied by mechanisms ranging from informal networks to establishment of an international commission to jointly manage water, but a mechanism for collaboration at the basin scale alone does not ensure sound water management. To better guide resource management, study of applied resilience theory has revealed a number of management practices that are integral for adaptive governance. In this article we describe key resilience principles for treaty design and adaptive governance and then apply the principles to a case study of one transboundary basin where the need and willingness to manage collaboratively and iteratively is high- the Okavango River Basin of southwest Africa. This descriptive and applied approach should be particularly instructive for treaty negotiators, transboundary resource managers, and aid program developers.

Keywords: adaptive governance, Okavango River, international water law, collaborative adaptive management

Suggested Citation

Green, Olivia Odom and Cosens, Barbara A. and Garmestani, Ahjond S., Iterative Processes for Resilient Transboundary Water Management: Collaboratively Governing the Okavango for Adaptation (April, 12 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2039023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2039023

Olivia Odom Green (Contact Author)

US Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory ( email )

26 West Martin Luther King
Cincinnati, OH 45268
United States

Barbara A. Cosens

University of Idaho - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 442321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321
United States
208 885-6298 (Phone)
208 885-2859 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uidaho.edu/law/people/faculty/bcosens

Ahjond S. Garmestani

Government of the United States of America - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ( email )

Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
United States

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