Knowledge review -WRC
Water governance has emerged as a key concept over the past few decades and is becoming an increasingly prominent field of research activity as recognition grows that many water crises are attributable more to governance failures than resource scarcity. Moreover, it has been an area of research effort for the Water Research Commission (WRC) for several decades, although it has not always been explicitly labelled as such. This effort has also tended to be unevenly distributed across the major themes that are frequently observed under the banner of water governance. In recent years, a more focused portfolio of work has emerged within the WRC on water governance, to the extent that a Lighthouse focusing on governance was established in order to enable a multi-disciplinary, programmatic approach to be taken for this research area. However, much remains to be done to create a systematically-derived agenda for water governance research that is also responsive to current needs and drivers in South Africa. Such an agenda needs to consider governance at a range of scales, from sub-national to national and across national borders in the case of shared water resources and multi-lateral agreements. With many aspects of water governance currently being in a state of flux in South Africa, there is a need for the relevant research agendas to respond to the current challenges, while continuing to scan the horizon in order to surface future risks and opportunities. There is thus a need to take stock, reflect and rethink the focus of the water governance portfolio going forward. This will entail examining the existing body of knowledge in relation to current global trends, as well as specific needs and opportunities in water governance in South Africa. The stock take will feed in to a process for identifying future areas of strategic research that both inform and align with WRC objectives and national priorities. Such foresight exercises have been shown to be useful vehicles for identifying research priorities and strengthening capacity for undertaking priority research. The work to be done through this project will feed into a broader project being undertaken within the WRC to design a strategy (including a research agenda) for the water governance portfolio.