Water Policy

Research projects

Water Policy

  • Policy Forums in Water and Environmental Governance

Policy Forums in Water and Environmental Governance

Policy forums are lightly institutionalized and stable forms of governance networks which include state authorities, interest groups, stakeholders and scientists and deal with policy problems in a given issue area. Especially new complex issues in domains such as climate change or energy policy are supposed to be better governed in a horizontal, informal and inclusive way within policy forums, as compared to the traditional hierarchical forms of political decision-making let by the state administration. This research project analyzes the role that such policy forums can play for the functioning of water and environmental governance. More specifically, it asks a) what outputs policy forums produce and how they contribute to decision-making and conflict resolution in water and environmental policy, and b) how the design, the management and the interactions within policy forums affect their ability to produce outputs.

To answer these questions, the project aims at analyzing policy forums at two levels, i.e. the level of forums themselves as well as at the level of members of policy forums. Policy forums are compared a) within the same institutional context (i.e. Switzerland), comparing forums within the large domain of environmental policy (around 50 forums, such as “Water Agenda 21”, “Energy Switzerland”, “Knowledge Transfer Forest Switzerland”, “Forum Biodiversity”) and b) at the international level, focusing on water policy forums only (platforms comparable to the Swiss “Water Agenda 21” exist for example in the Netherlands, Sweden, the USA or Spain).

Team: Manuel Fischer, Simon Maag, Eawag

Related Publications:

  • Fischer, M.; Angst, M.; Maag, S. (2019). Co-participation in the Swiss water forum network. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 35(3), 446-464 (first published online: 21 Sep 2017) . DOI:10.1080/07900627.2017.1374929.
  • Fischer, M.; Maag, S. (2019). Why Are Cross-Sectoral Forums Important to Actors? Forum Contributions to Cooperation, Learning, and Resource Distribution. Policy Studies Journal, 47(1), 114-137. DOI:10.1111/psj.12310.
  • Maag, S.; Fischer, M. (2018). Why Government, Interest Groups, and Research Coordinate: The Different Purposes of Forums. Society & Natural Resources, 31(11), 1248-1265. DOI:10.1080/08941920.2018.1484973.
  • Fischer, M.; Schläpfer, I. (2017). Metagovernance and Policy Forum Outputs in Swiss Environmental Policy. Environmental Politics, 26(5), 870-892. DOI:10.1080/09644016.2017.1284981.
  • Fischer, M.; Leifeld, P. (2015). Policy forums: Why do they exist and what are they used for? Policy Sciences, 48(3), 363-382. DOI:10.1007/s11077-015-9224-y.