Advertisement

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1579–1591 | Cite as

Multi-level interactions in a context of political decentralization and evolving water-policy goals: the case of Spain

  • Lucia De Stefano
  • Nuria Hernandez-Mora
Original Article

Abstract

Spain is a highly decentralized country where water governance is a multi-level institutional endeavor requiring effective intergovernmental coordination—in terms of objectives and actions. The paper revisits the evolution of vertical and horizontal intergovernmental interactions in Spain, with a special focus on four interregional river basins. We build on a historical analysis of the evolution of water governance institutions, a mapping of existing interactions over water, careful document analysis, and interviews with selected public officials that are at the interface between the political and the technical spheres. Intergovernmental interaction occurs through different mechanisms that are slowly evolving to adapt to new challenges posed by changing power dynamics and water policy goals. Since the start of political decentralization in 1978, key institutional reforms within and outside of the water sector have opened windows of opportunity for regions to seek new spheres of influence and power. Disputes over water allocation, environmental flows, inter-basin transfers, and even basin boundaries delineation emerge as an expression of a struggle over power distribution between the regions and the central government. The physical and institutional geography of water and diverging visions and priorities (over water and beyond) are among the factors that contribute to shape conflict and cooperation in intergovernmental relations over water.

Keywords

Subnational Multilevel Cooperation Dispute Spain WFD 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the interviewees for sharing their insights and experiences; two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments; Mario Ballesteros for his help with Fig. 1; and Professor Dustin Garrick and Leandro del Moral for their valuable feedback on a first draft of this paper.

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1318_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 14 kb)

References

  1. Bernauer T, Böhmelt T, Buhaug H, Gleditsch NP, Tribaldos T, Weibust EB, Wischnath G (2012) Water-related intrastate conflict and cooperation (WARICC): a new event dataset. Int Interact 38(4):529–545.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03050629.2012.697428 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brochmann M (2012) Signing river treaties: does it improve river cooperation? Int Interact 38:141–163.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03050629.2012.657575 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brochmann M, Hensel PR (2009) Peaceful management of international river claims. Int Negot 14(2):393–418.  https://doi.org/10.1163/157180609X432879 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brochmann M, Gleditsch NP (2012) Shared rivers and conflict: a reconsideration. Polit Geogr 31:519–527.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. del Moral, Hernández-Mora N (2016) Nuevos debates sobre escalas en política de aguas. Estado, cuencas hidrográficas y comunidades autónomas en España. Ciudad y Territorio: Estudios Territoriales 190(XLVIII):563–583Google Scholar
  6. De Stefano L, Jacob D, Petersen-Perlman E, Sproles A, Eynard J, Wolf AT (2017) Assessment of transboundary river basins for potential hydro-political tensions. Global Environmental Change 45:35–46.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.04.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. De Stefano L, Edwards P, de Silva L, Wolf AT (2010) Tracking cooperation and conflict in international river basins. Historic and recent trends. Water Policy 12:871–884.  https://doi.org/10.2166/wp.2010.137 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dinar S, Katz D, De Stefano L, Blankespoor B (2015) Climate change, conflict, and cooperation: global analysis of the effectiveness of international river treaties in addressing water variability. Polit Geogr 45:55–66.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.08.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eidem N, Fesler KJ, Wolf AT (2012) Intranational Cooperation and Conflict Over Freshwater: Examples from the Western United States. Univ Council on Water Resour 147:63–71Google Scholar
  10. Espey M, Towfique B (2004) International bilateral water treaty formation. Water Resour Res 40:1–8.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2003WR002534 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Font N, Subirats J (2010) Water management in Spain: the role of policy entrepreneurs in shaping change. Ecol Soc 15(2):25.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-03344-150225 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Furlong K, Gleditsch NP, Hegre H (2006) Geographic opportunity and Neomalthusian willingness: boundaries, shared rivers, and conflict. Int Interact 32:79–108.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03050620600596421 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garrick D, De Stefano L, Fung F, Pittock J, Schlager E, New M, Connell D (2013) Managing hydroclimatic risks in federal rivers: a diagnostic assessment. Phil Trans R Soc A 371:20120415.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2012.0415 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Garrick DE, De Stefano L (2016) Adaptive capacity in federal rivers: coordination challenges and institutional responses. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:78–85.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.11.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gleditsch NP, Furlong K, Hegre H, Lacina B, Owen T (2006) Conflict over shared rivers: resource scarcity or fuzzy boundaries. Polit Geogr 25(4):361–382.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2006.02.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gleditsch NP (2012) Whither the weather? Climate change and conflict. J Peace Res 49:3–9.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343311431288 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hensel PR, Mitchell SM, Sowers TE, Thyne CL (2008) Bones of contention comparing territorial, maritime, and river issues. J Confl Resolut 52:117–143.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002707310425 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hernández-Mora N, del Moral L, La Roca F, La Calle A, Schmidt G (2014) Interbasin water transfers in Spain. Interregional conflicts and governance responses. En: Globalized water: A question of governance, G. Schneider-Madanes (ed). Dordrecht, Springer. Pp: 175–194Google Scholar
  19. Hernández-Mora N, Cabello V, De Stefano L, del Moral L (2015) Networked water citizen organizations in Spain: potential for transformation of existing power structures for water management. Water Alternatives 8(2):99–124Google Scholar
  20. López-Gunn E, De Stefano L (2014) Between a rock and a hard place: redefining water security under decentralization in Spain. In: Garrick D et al (eds) Federal Rivers: managing water in multi-layered political systems. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp 158–176Google Scholar
  21. López-Gunn E, Dumont A, Villarroya F (2013) Tablas de Daimiel National Park and groundwater conflicts. In: De Stefano L, Llamas MR (eds) Water, Agriculture and the environment in Spain: can we square the circle? Taylor and Francis Group, London, pp 259–267Google Scholar
  22. March H, Saurí D, Rico-Amorós AM (2014) The end of scarcity? Water desalination as the new cornucopia for Mediterranean Spain. J Hydrol 519:2642–2651.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.04.023 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Martínez-Santos P, De Stefano L, Llamas MR, Martínez-Alfaro E (2008) Wetland Restoration in the Mancha Occidental Aquifer, Spain: A Critical Perspective on Water, Agricultural, and Environmental Policies. Restor Ecol 16(3):511–521.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-100X.2008.00410.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moore SM (2017) The dilemma of autonomy: decentralization and water politics at the subnational level. Water Int 42:222–239.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2017.1276038 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Munia H, Guillaume JHA, Mirumachi N, Porkka M, Wada Y, Kummu M (2016) Water stress in global transboundary river basins: significance of upstream water use on downstream stress. Environ Res Lett 11:014002.  https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/1/014002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nordås R, Gleditsch NP (2007) Climate change and conflict. Polit Geogr 26:627–638.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343311431288 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pedregal B, Brugué Q, Del Moraa L, Ballester A, Espluga J, Ferrer G, Hernández-Mora N, La Calle A, La Roca F, Parés M (2011) Deliberative Democracy and Water Policy: Public Participation in Water Resources Planning in Spain, proceeding of: XIV European seminar on geography of water - “environmental conflicts and sustainable water policies in the Mediterranean region”, At Cagliari, Italy, Volume: http://www.cuec.eu/index.php/download/
  28. Saurí D, del Moral L (2001) Recent developments in Spanish water policy: alternatives and conflicts at the end of the hydraulic age. Geoforum 32:351–362.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7185(00)00048-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sala G (2013) Federalism without adjectives in Spain. Publius-J Fed 44(1):109–134.  https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjt010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Subirat J (2006) Multi-level governance and multi-level discontent: the triumph and tensions of the Spanish model. In: Greer SL (ed) Territory, Democracy and justice. Regionalism and federalism in western democracies. Palgrave MacMillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, pp 175–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tir J, Ackerman J (2009) Politics of Formalized River cooperation. J Peace Res 46:623–640.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343309336800 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Toset HPW, Gleditsch NP, Hegre H (2000) Shared rivers and interstate conflict. Polit Geogr 19:971–996.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0962-6298(00)00038-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Trench A (2006) Origins of cooperative and competitive federalism. In: Greer SL (ed.) territory, democracy and justice. Regionalism and federalism in western democracies. Palgrave MacMillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, pp 201–223Google Scholar
  34. Varela C, Hernández-Mora N (2010) Institutions and institutional reform in the Spanish water sector: A historical perspective. In: Garrido A, Llamas MR (eds) Water Policy in Spain. CRC Press/Balkema, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  35. Watts RL (2006) Intergovernmental relations: in search of a theory. In: Greer SL (ed) Territory, Democracy and justice. Regionalism and federalism in western democracies. Palgrave MacMillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, pp 224–256Google Scholar
  36. Wolf AT, Yoffe SB, Giordano M (2003) International waters: identifying basins at risk. Water Policy 5:29–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yoffe SB, Wolf AT, Giordano M (2003) Conflict and cooperation over International freshwater resources: indicators of basins at risk. J Am Water Resour Assoc 39:1109–1126.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.n2003.tb03696.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Young O (1999). Institutional dimensions of global environmental change. Science plan. IHDP Report No. 9, IHDP, BonnGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias GeológicasUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Water ObservatoryBotín FoundationMadridSpain
  3. 3.Fundación Nueva Cultura del AguaMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations