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Wishing you a happy new year

By Dave Huitema (video Canto Ostinato, combined with aerial images of waterscapes from the Netherlands)- Dear readers, 2011 is almost over. The last days of December are a good period for reflection but also a time for looking forward. Our blog has been online for a while now and the number of visitors is relatively stable at 500 per month. We have been privileged to receive good contributions from many parts of the world. The water governance community is still nascent and small, but let there be no doubt about the relevance of water issues and the role of governance therein. Current societal development trajectories move closer and closer towards certain tipping points, as can be gleaned from predictions on increased levels of risks for water stress, droughts and floods. We believe that in a world characterized by complexity and uncertainty there is a need for new ideas. Should these take the shape of ever new paradigms such as IWRM and Adaptive Management, and if so should these paradigms be implemented the same way in every societal setting or rather not? Some are arguing we should stop bickering over new paradigms as such discussions cost time and seem to suffer from trendiness and fashion. Others point to the need to adapt paradigms to local situations and avoid a one size fits all approach. Such suggestions should be taken to heart indeed. But at the same time, paradigms give direction and express ambition. The currently dominant paradigm of IWRM does so in a way that mixes neoliberal insights (cost recovery, privatization) with communitarianism (participation, deliberation) and technocratic elements (river basin approach, improving ecological knowledge). This mix is sufficiently ambiguous and multifaceted to guarantee that everyone finds something in it to their liking, until the inconsistencies between the various aspects of the paradigm flare up (how can one organize deliberation at the river basin scale, if that is more that a watershed for instance?). The newer paradigm of Adaptive Management has by now morphed into Adaptive Co-Management, and offers promise in times of uncertainty on the horizon. Looking back at the year we can see how some on this blog have attacked the notion of governance head on, and suggested it is nothing but an empty container. Others have pleaded for attention to the complex process of translation from theoretical paradigms to actual practices, and many contributors have presented empirical evidence of some innovations in water management, including the notions of collaborative management and the river basin organization. We can be satisfied with the harvest yielded. But we obviously want more: with this blog we would like to offer a global forum for discussion. And despite some contributions from Africa and Asia, we still need to expand our geographical range more. And the number of comments we receive is too small to be able to say that we are truly offering a forum for discussion and so we need more appealing stories and better posts that make people forced to respond. In saying so, we kindly invite you to keep following our blog and feel invited to contribute your stories and comments. Perhaps the Dutch masterpiece Canto Ostinato gets you in the right mood? We hope you enjoy the music as much as we do and wish you all the best for 2012!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.watergovernance.eu/about/wishing-you-a-happy-new-year/

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