Cooperative governance in water resource management – drawing lessons from the Breede River catchment

Lessons from the Breede Partnering Solution featured in the Water Research Commission (WRC) Water Wheel November/December 2022 edition

The governance and management of water resources is becoming increasingly complex. Communities of water practitioners and scientists point to cooperative governance as key to tackling existing and anticipated complexities in the sector. Cooperative governance is made up of two principles: collaboration and adaptive management.

Catchment management agencies (CMAs) oversee the management of water catchment areas and play a key role in enabling cooperative governance in water resource management. However, there is currently a lack of guidance to enable the necessary collaborative and adaptive practices, and a number of  social and institutional barriers are preventing the success of cooperative governance in catchment management.

To address this, a joint-project between the Water Research Commission (WRC) and the EDP aimed to develop a guiding framework for collaborative and adaptive management to improve water governance. The final product will include practical guidelines for enabling cooperative governance for catchment management, to be released in early 2023.

As part of this project, the research team examined the lessons in cooperative governance learned by the Breede Partnering Solution, an institutional partnering agreement between the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) and the Western Cape Government’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) aimed at building an integrated environmental and water resource management approach in the Breede River catchment area.

This case study, written by Margo Paterson (EDP), Jessica Wilson (EDP) and Amanda Gcanga (World Resources Institute/WRI) contributes to the emerging discussion around cooperative governance and first appeared in the WRC’s Water Wheel publication November/December 2022.

Download the case study: ‘Cooperative governance in water resource management – drawing lessons from the Breede River catchment.