Role of stakeholders in groundwater management
To manage for the undesirable impacts of groundwater depletion, many countries often begin by seeking to use systems of regulation to restrict groundwater use. Their implementation often remains problematic from low compliance with set rules, arising in part from little involvement of stakeholders in establishing groundwater use rules.
Many factors make stakeholder engagement in groundwater management difficult. As groundwater management usually focuses mostly on limiting (current) groundwater abstraction, there is limited scope for broader solutions, including supply augmentation and operations, which benefit current water abstractors, making current water users de facto opponents to rules expected to negatively impact them.
What are our objectives and our approach?
Our main objectives are to show that well-designed stakeholder processes can deliver socially accepted management rules with higher likelihood of compliance, thereby enhancing groundwater long-term sustainability. We focus on how effective stakeholder involvement improves stakeholder groundwater literacy, develops capacity to think long-term and capture trade-offs, and helps in developing innovative rules. We also investigate how a shift from narrowly defined groundwater management to conjunctive soil and groundwater management by including to (water) retention, recharge, and nature-based solutions gives more chances for successful stakeholder process outcomes.
This “portfolio approach” to regional and basin water management has increased the robustness and reduced the costs and environmental impact of many water systems globally, and has potential to greatly ease the short-term burdens of improving groundwater sustainability. Analysis by simulation and optimization model and, more importantly, social learning and participatory discussions and decisions are central to developing and successfully implementing such effective portfolios of water supply and demand management actions.
Who and Where?
Our team consists of experts and researchers from 4 countries (France, USA, Taiwan and Russia), using a truly transdisciplinary approach combining biophysical and human sciences (sociology, economics, political sciences…) with expertise in groundwater management and policy, as well as stakeholder mobilisation.
Applying this approach in the context-specific approaches in 7 case studies with diverse contexts in France, US, Taiwan and Russia and carrying out comparative research ensuring collective learning and identification of pre-conditions for successful stakeholder processes delivering socially accepted groundwater management rules.