BR.20.001 – COMMONING RIVERS. Science-with-society for water justice and co-governance

Route: The blue route: water as a pathway to innovation and sustainable growth

Cluster question: 011 How can we ensure proper water governance in the future?

The project Nurturing Water Socio-Natures sets out to identify, conceptualize and support new forms of democratic, grass-rooted, multiscale water governance, contributing to new theoretical understandings and methodological tools to design nature- and society-based water policies. We do so by engaging with on-the-ground water user communities, coalitions and movements in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia, linking and bridging innovative strategies, experiences and practices cross-culturally. Through academic and participatory action-research in Living Labs we study and co-produce knowledge on local and translocal water governance forms that are characterized by inclusive, polycentric decision making by multiple actors operating at different scales. Thereby the project will also study and question dominant ways of knowing and organizing water and societies. Connecting to and bridging vernacular water cultures and translocal movements, we look for new, hybrid governance norms, values, and federal structures with important scope to foster sustainability and environmental justice but which are often overlooked. The project will develop an innovative framework on contested, hybrid and multiscalar socionatural networks. Its comparative and cross-continental research will be conducted by an alliance of research and water governance organizations with large experience in the field of transdisciplinary water governance, headed by Wageningen University, including also global policy institutes, national governments and local grassroots organizations. The project will support water users’ communities and coalitions in expressing their voice, manage their water resources and influence environmental planning and governance. It will develop a local-national-global proposal for more socially and environmentally just water governance.


citizen science, comparative research, environmental justice, socionatures, transdisciplinarity, water governance

Other organisations



Organisation Wageningen University (WUR)
Name R. (Rutgerd) Boelens