Central Asian Waters: Polygon for Testing Policy Translation

With the rise of globalization, models for good water governance, such as integrated water resources management (IWRM), river basin management (RBM), river basin organizations (RBOs), water user associations (WUAs), and more recently, water pricing and payments for ecosystem services (PES), all travel around the world to impact policy-making at national and local levels. This dynamics has been captured in the post on policy translation on this blog.If one considers a region where most of such policies have been tried in the period of 20 years – few places may compete with Central Asia and Caucasus. A polygon for testing new policies in water and environmental governance, this region is known to consist of countries in “transition” moving from communism to market-based economy. Such transition almost by default has resulted in the uncritical embrace of market-based instruments and neo-liberal thinking. The normative appeal of the West and its policies further provided the favourable environment to export policies to Central Asia and Caucasus. But the most important factor in the almost industrial scale import of Western institutions in water management to Central Asia and Caucasus was the alarmist discourse of the Aral Sea disaster and the coming wars over water in this remote region of the world. The images of the ship shown above have mobilized the flow of resources into the region. Policies, such as international agreements between countries, data exchange policies, river basin organizations (both domestic and international), IWRM plans, water codes and water user associations proliferated in Caucasus and Central Asia. It became trendy and often lucrative to be dealing with Central Asia, be this consulting, development work or academic research. Read more Central Asian Waters: Polygon for Testing Policy Translation

Public Policy Bits: How policy ideas spread

What happens when a policy idea becomes internationally popular? An idea that becomes a darling of international policy communities that propagate it and institute a system of reward and punishment around its application. And how then do we know if an idea is only a buzzword or a real instrument that solves problems on the ground? At what level do we start such an examination, and using what set of criteria? Are we starting with the question of effectiveness, that is whether or not a policy is of any good in terms of problems it has been evoked to solve; or rather with the question of how an idea is proliferated and spreads around, that is the question of mechanisms, actors and interests of the process. In other words, what is to be studied first: the process of spread or the outcome of the spread? Read more Public Policy Bits: How policy ideas spread

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