Institutional Design, Public Participation, and their Consequences for Watershed Governance

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"Given the focus on the management of local resources, it is challenging for studies of the commons to deal with complex issues in watershed governance on a larger scale. Recently, attention has been given to the importance of multilevel environmental governance. However, there is still no clarity on the kinds of institutional arrangements and public participation desirable for sustainable watershed governance. In this study, based on the previously developed institutional analysis theory on the commons and environmental governance, we construct a framework for analyzing the relationship between institutional design and public participation in river basin planning and these factors impacts on this type of planning. This study examines the management of Japans Watershed Committees, which were established by the amendment of the River Law in 1997. In Japan, rivers governance had traditionally been highly state-centered, especially after World War II. Because of such technocratic governance, residents along rivers experienced alienation. This caused serious conflicts between residents and bureaucrats over river development projects such as dam construction, and local communities and the environment were both adversely affected. To cope with this situation, a new public participation procedure was introduced in the River Law of 1997. Based on this amendment, several Watershed Committees were established during the planning process for each river. Here, we analyze the Watershed Committees quantitatively, based on the institutional analysis theory mentioned above. First, we construct a dataset describing the institutional design of the Watershed Committees, types of public participation, and established river plans for 109 Class-A rivers. This dataset is then used for multiple-regression analysis to explore the relationship between institutional design, public participation, and planning consequences. This analysis thus helps identify some of the implications of institutional design and public participation for the purposes of developing more sustainable watershed governance."



participation, watersheds, institutional design, governance and politics, IASC