Multilevel water governance and problems of scale: setting the stage for a broader debate

Environ Manage. 2010 Jul;46(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s00267-010-9531-1.


Environmental governance and management are facing a multiplicity of challenges related to spatial scales and multiple levels of governance. Water management is a field particularly sensitive to issues of scale because the hydrological system with its different scalar levels from small catchments to large river basins plays such a prominent role. It thus exemplifies fundamental issues and dilemmas of scale in modern environmental management and governance. In this introductory article to an Environmental Management special feature on "Multilevel Water Governance: Coping with Problems of Scale," we delineate our understanding of problems of scale and the dimensions of scalar politics that are central to water resource management. We provide an overview of the contributions to this special feature, concluding with a discussion of how scalar research can usefully challenge conventional wisdom on water resource management. We hope that this discussion of water governance stimulates a broader debate and inquiry relating to the scalar dimensions of environmental governance and management in general.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Politics
  • Water Pollution / analysis
  • Water Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Water Supply / analysis*
  • Water Supply / standards
  • Weights and Measures