Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building

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Overview

Water is a key component of critical ecosystems, a marketable commodity,a foundation of local communities and cultures, and a powerful means of social control. It has become a source of contentious politics and social controversy on a global scale, and the management of water conflicts is one of the biggest challenges in the effort to achieve effective global environmental governance.In Governing Water, Ken Conca examines political struggles to create a global framework for the governance of water. Threats to the world's rivers, watersheds, and critical freshwater ecosystems have resisted the establishment of effective global agreements through intergovernmental bargaining because the conditions for successful interstate cooperation — effective state authority, stable knowledge frameworks,and a territorialized understanding of nature — cannot be imposed upon water controversies. But while interstate water diplomacy has faltered, less formalized institutions — socially and politically embedded rules, roles, and practices — have emerged to help shape water governance locally and globally.Conca examines the politics of these institutions, presenting a framework for understanding global environmental governance based on key institutional presumptions about territoriality, authority, and knowledge. He maps four distinct processes of institution building: formal international regimes for shared rivers; international networking among water experts and professionals; social movements opposing the construction of large dams; and the struggle surrounding transnational water "marketization." These cases illustrate the potential for alternative institutional forms in situations where traditional interstate regimes are ineffective.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"An excellent eye-opener. Conca's study of water produces a compelling critique of prevailing modes of global governance and a hopeful exploration of a nonterritorialist, nonstatist, nonfunctionalist social ecology."—Jan Aart Scholte,Codirector, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick

"A major achievement in rethinking the prospects for global environmental protection in general." Paul Wapner, School of International Service, American University

"The hydropolitics literature is characterized by basin-level studies,usually from areas of conflict, mostly written by scholars from disciplines other than IR. It therefore comes as a breath of fresh air when an empirical study is done at a global level of scale, by an IR specialist. This work is of great significance to both academic and water resource manager alike, because it shows deep insight into a complex subject. This contribution by Ken Conca to the field of Environmental Security and Hydropolitics is substantial." Anthony Turton, Gibb-SERA Chair in IWRM,Environmentek, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa

"There is hardly a more critical issue today than ensuring just and sustainable access to water. Governing Water explains the challenges of safeguarding such access and charts the emergence of genuinely innovative forms of global water governance. Theoretically sound and impressively researched, it represents a major achievement in rethinking the prospects for global environmental protection in general." Paul Wapner, School of International Service,American University

"*Paths to a Green World* provides the most theoretically sophisticated and sustained study to date on the relationship between economic globalization and environmental well-being. Rather than write a diatribe, Clapp and Dauvergne present conflicting views on this relationship and, in doing so, call on each of us to appreciate the diversity of environmental thought and probe our own understandings to work humbly yet urgently for a more sustainable global future."—Paul Wapner,School of International Service, American University

"There is hardly a more critical issue today than ensuring just and sustainable access to water. *Governing Water* explains the challenges of safeguarding such access and charts the emergence of genuinely innovative forms of global water governance. Theoretically sound and impressively researched, it represents a major achievement in rethinking the prospects for global environmental protection in general."—Paul Wapner, School of International Service, American University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ken Conca is Associate Professor of Government and Politics and Director of the Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda at the University of Maryland.

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Table of Contents

1 Managing the global environment or protecting the planet's places? : institutional forms of global environmental governance 1
2 Toward a social theory of international institutions 35
3 Pushing rivers around : the cumulative toll on the world's watersheds and freshwater ecosystems 73
4 Swimming upstream : in search of a global regime for international rivers (with Fengshi Wu and Joanne Neukirchen) 93
5 Expert networks : the elusive quest for integrated water resources management 123
6 The ecology of human rights : anti-dam activism and watershed democracy 167
7 Invisible hand, visible fist : the transnational politics of water marketization 215
8 Brazil : innovation through conflict 257
9 South Africa : "with water we will wash away the past" 311
10 Institution building as the social embedding of political struggle 373
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