Engagement and governance
The PWG research in urban water governance sought to support a transition to a more socially orientated water system.
Our approach saw urban water as a socio-technical system in which physical elements (e.g. built infrastructure and nature) and social elements (formal and informal institutions) co-evolve.
Studying the ‘governance’ of this system means looking at processes of intentional change (including their unintentional consequences), whether undertaken by national/local government, regulators, water service providers, civil society organisations or by the public.
Three overarching themes guide this research.
- Excellent water partnerships: How are water service providers innovating to work with their customers/citizens and with other stakeholders? What makes partnerships work (or not work!) for whom?
- Water innovation and change: What are the processes through which water service providers identify, explore and implement change? How can barriers to judicious innovation be overcome?
- Knowledge production across cultures: How can we work more effectively across academic disciplines and between academia and practice?
- Liz Sharp - "I pioneer collaborative research with water governance organisations and the public to seek out new or different ways of making a better (more resilient, equitable and efficient) water system."
- Emma Westling - "I am an environmental social scientist with research interests in water governance and sustainability. I am particularly interested in how different kinds of knowledge and expertise come together as part of these processes."
The research focussed on the following specific areas
Public and stakeholder engagement
- Public participation in policy-making by water service providers
- Providers’ communicative cultures and norms
- Stakeholder trust in water service providers
- Collaborations between different water service providers
- Public water cultures
- Project-based engagement for asset development or behaviour change
- Civil society groups and action
Uptake of innovation and change management
- The nature of innovation in water service providers
- Institutional versus technological innovation
- The role of partnerships in innovation processes
- Disasters and near-misses as a tool for innovation and learning
Climate change adaptation
- Interpretations and meanings of adaptation in water service providers
- Adaptation as reflexive governance
- Long-term strategies to support adaptation
The role of social science in water management practice
- Social science as a source of innovation
- Social science as a means to aid partnership
Facilities and resources
In the area of urban water governance research PWG offered:
- Support in the design of participation processes in water management;
- Strategic guidance about how to work with local communities;
- Advice and support to develop strategies for climate change adaptation within and between organisations
- Internal audits of innovation processes and lessons learnt
The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.