The International Water Soft Path: Possibilities and Challenges in a New Era of Global Water Affairs

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"The purpose of this study is two-fold: first, to demonstrate how any serious consideration of what experts tell us about how to best manage water resources in a new era of global water challenges begs the central question above; and second, to offer a strategy for how to answer it. This study uses Elinor Ostrom’s recently developed social-ecological system framework to diagnose and compare four cases of international transboundary water situations. Ostrom’s new tool allows for analysis that provides a better understanding of when states might manage shared water resources using soft path approaches. Qualitative analysis about international water norms is also used in order to provide appropriate context for the analysis conducted using Ostrom’s framework. Conclusions are drawn that the international system is largely not ready for the integrated soft path management of transboundary water resources. However, five variables are identified as affecting the likelihood that states will manage shared waters using soft path approaches, which is itself an indication that Ostrom’s new framework is a valid tool for addressing this topic. Finally, this study appeals to a form of ecological political consciousness as a means of working towards sustainable water management at the global level."



water management, cooperation, social-ecological systems