New Study Examines Water Governance: Could Less Be More?

Feb 12 17:02 2020 Print This Article

Researchers from the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Lausanne (UNIL) analysed water governance in six European countries from 1750 to 2006.

The researchers found that there has been an inflationary trend in the number of regulations, and that—far from improving the situation—this has led to serious malfunctions in the system.

The use of natural resources, such as water, has been regulated for centuries with the aim of improving the management and behaviour of private and public actors on an ongoing basis. But, does the never-ending introduction of new regulations really have a positive effect? Or, does a surfeit of rules cause malfunctions and lead to disturbing overlaps?

In an attempt to answer these questions, researchers from UNIGE and UNIL analysed water governance regulations in six European countries from 1750 to 2006. The results, published in the journal Ecological Economics, show that rules designed to improve resource management eventually come into conflict in the long run, creating an equal number of positive and negative effects until the system falls apart. At this point, the only way out is for the state to overhaul governance.

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