, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 353–366 | Cite as

Science–policy processes for transboundary water governance

  • Derek Armitage
  • Rob C. de Loë
  • Michelle Morris
  • Tom W. D. Edwards
  • Andrea K. Gerlak
  • Roland I. Hall
  • Dave Huitema
  • Ray Ison
  • David Livingstone
  • Glen MacDonald
  • Naho Mirumachi
  • Ryan Plummer
  • Brent B. Wolfe


In this policy perspective, we outline several conditions to support effective science–policy interaction, with a particular emphasis on improving water governance in transboundary basins. Key conditions include (1) recognizing that science is a crucial but bounded input into water resource decision-making processes; (2) establishing conditions for collaboration and shared commitment among actors; (3) understanding that social or group-learning processes linked to science–policy interaction are enhanced through greater collaboration; (4) accepting that the collaborative production of knowledge about hydrological issues and associated socioeconomic change and institutional responses is essential to build legitimate decision-making processes; and (5) engaging boundary organizations and informal networks of scientists, policy makers, and civil society. We elaborate on these conditions with a diverse set of international examples drawn from a synthesis of our collective experiences in assessing the opportunities and constraints (including the role of power relations) related to governance for water in transboundary settings.


Adaptation Collaboration Environment Governance Sustainability Transboundary water management 



This perspective was initially developed at a workshop funded by the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo, and then further refined through a special session of the Global Water System Project conference, “Water in the Anthropocene: Challenges for Science and Governance” held in Bonn, Germany (May 2013). Additional support for this collaboration has been provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We gratefully acknowledge the constructive feedback of anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Armitage
    • 1
  • Rob C. de Loë
    • 2
  • Michelle Morris
    • 2
  • Tom W. D. Edwards
    • 3
  • Andrea K. Gerlak
    • 4
  • Roland I. Hall
    • 5
  • Dave Huitema
    • 6
    • 13
  • Ray Ison
    • 7
    • 14
  • David Livingstone
    • 8
  • Glen MacDonald
    • 9
  • Naho Mirumachi
    • 10
  • Ryan Plummer
    • 11
    • 15
  • Brent B. Wolfe
    • 12
  1. 1.Environmental Change & Governance Group, Department of Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Water Policy & Governance Group, Department of Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Earth & Environmental SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Udall Center for Studies in Public PolicyUniversity of ArizonaArizonaUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  6. 6.Institute of Environmental StudiesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Engineering & InnovationThe Open UniversityBuckinghamshireUK
  8. 8.Holarctic Environmental Consulting Ltd.YellowknifeCanada
  9. 9.Institute of the Environment & SustainabilityUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  10. 10.Department of GeographyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  11. 11.Environmental Sustainability Research CentreBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  12. 12.Department of Geography & Environmental StudiesWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  13. 13.Faculty of Management, Science & TechnologyNetherlands Open UniversityHeerlenThe Netherlands
  14. 14.Monash Sustainability InstituteMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  15. 15.Stockholm Resilience CentreStockholmSweden

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