Historical Legacies and Contemporary Perspectives of Participatory Water Governance in Southwest Germany

A. Neef (Thailand)


Public participation, water governance, Germany


Public participation in water management is high on the environmental agenda of Germany, a country which in the past followed a command-and-control policy-style that was alien to participatory concepts. Driven by the approach of integrated water resource management advocated by the European Union in its recently issued Water Framework Directive, Germany needs to move towards a more participatory approach to water management. Drawing on a case study of the Jagst river valley in Southwest Germany, this paper analyzes the translation of the participatory imperative in resource management at the local level, with particular reference to various uses of water. Evidence from the case study suggests that the strong reliance on the rule of law, technocratic attitudes of local officials, and a current trend towards recentralization of responsibilities for water governance cast doubts on the prospects of a stronger inclusion of the wider civil society in decision-making with regard to water governance issues.

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