Research and Publications

I study the intersection of public policy and the environment in the context of international development. Broadly speaking, I am interested in understanding the role of knowledge in politics, especially in a transnational context where global policy ideas influence national and local policy practices and vice versa. I am fascinated by the interplay of public policy, culture, language, and human psychology/cognition and have a strong interpretive predisposition in my research and teaching. Normatively, my research is informed by the values of equity, social justice, pluralism and the importance of the context in politics. Over the years, I developed several lines in my research as follows.

Policy Translation, Mobility and Narratives

I am interested in applying an interpretive lens to understanding policy design and implementation. By the interpretive lens, I mean the exploration of meanings of public policies to various groups of populations (so-called interpretive communities), co-existence of various framings of policy problems and solutions, and the role of politics in what we come to know and hold as the “true knowledge” in regard to policy. Methods to study policy interpretively include, among others, discourse analysis, in-depth interviews, narrative studies and ethnographic methods.

Within this broad theme, I remain interested in studying how, and to what effect, environmental and water policy innovations/models travel across various borders (often from Global North to Global South, but also from South to South and from South to North). This research line concerns itself with the three categories of policy translation during such cross-jurisdictional travel: the politics of meaning, the politics of scale and the politics of contingency (see page on Policy Translation on this blog for more details, or read Mukhtarov, 2014).

Knowledge Pluralism and Policy (Institutional) Design

I am interested in how policy-makers and public managers can make use of multiple ways of knowing in public policy and governance. Scientific knowledge is only one type of knowledge, there is indigenous knowledge, knowledge based on rituals, practices and values. They all are valuable and need to be included in the policy-making process.

The role of discourses and framing of knowledge make an important part of this research avenue, including the struggles over meanings and their plasticity. However, the key challenge in policy-making, in my understanding, is the ability of the system to allow for stitching together knowledge claims that come from different sources.

Behavioural Approaches to Public Policy

I am interested in the role of emotions and nudging in changing environmental (as well as policy) attitudes and promoting sustainable public policies in the world. I approach emotions and behavioural science from a public policy perspective and ask questions about the transition to sustainability and the place of so-called “libertarian paternalism” in it. Taken broader, this theme includes my interest in understanding the role of emotions, cognition and behavioural aspects in public policy, be it in an environmental domain or any other policy domain.

Commodification and Mobility of Water Governance Expertise through Hydr0-hubs

This is the most recent research interest of mine that sprung out of the empirical observation of various ethical and political dilemmas around the use of global water governance and international water cooperation by the Global North to pursue the twin goals of a) development in recipient countries (often Global South) and b) profits for themselves. The rise of neo-liberalism in international aid, aid and trade and, arguably, global water governance, raises serious issues around effectiveness, equity, fairness and power that need to be researched. Within this line of inquiry, I am interested in understanding the role of branding, networking and soft-power in the global field of water governance. You will find posts on this theme under “home” page.


Most of my publications are available at my Google Scholar, Researchgate, ORCID and University profiles. Please, feel free to email me in case if you cannot access one of the publications. Below is the list of all publications I produced.


Mukhtarov, F. (2022) A Review of Water Policies on the Move: Diffusion, Transfer, Translation or Branding?” Water Alternatives 15.2 (2022): 290-306.

Papyrakis, E.,…Mukhtarov, F. (2022) Op-ed on Covid-19 and International Development. Progress in Development Studies. In print.

Aditya, A. and Mukhtarov, F. (2022) Relationality as a Lens for Policy Analysis: Preserving Harmony in a Triangular Cooperation Project to Strengthen Gender Mainstreaming in Fiji. Administration & Society.

Mukhtarov, F., Gasper, D., Aditya, A., Gautam, N., Hernandez Morales, D., and Duhita, S. (2021) “From “Merchants and Ministers” to “Neutral Brokers”? Water Diplomacy Aspirations by the Netherlands– a Discourse Analysis of the 2011 Commissioned Advisory Report. International Journal of Water Resources Development (IJWRD).

Boer, J.; Dieperink, C.; and Mukhtarov, F. (2019) Social Learning in Multilevel Flood Risk Governance: Lessons from the Dutch Room for the River Program. Water, 11, 2032. 3

Mukhtarov, F., Dieperink, C., Driessen, P., & Riley, J. (2019) Collaborative learning for policy innovations: sustainable urban drainage systems in Leicester, England. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1-14. 4

Pinyol, J., Mukhtarov, F., Dieperink C., Driessen, P. Broekman, A. (2019) Upscaling urban recycled water schemes: An analysis of the presence of required governance conditions in the city of Sabadell, Spain. Water, 11, 11. URL:

Leong, C., and Mukhtarov, F. (2018) Global IWRM Ideas and Local Context: Studying Narratives in Rural Cambodia, Water. Online, URL:

Mukhtarov, F., Dieperink, C., & Driessen, P. (2018) The influence of information and communication technologies on public participation in urban water governance: A review of place-based research. Environmental Science & Policy, 89: 430-438.

Mukhtarov, F., Pierce, R. and Gerlak, A. (2017) Away from Fossil-Fuels and Toward a Bioeconomy: Knowledge Versatility for Public Policy? Environment and Planning C, 35(6): 1010-1028.

Mukhtarov, F., de Jong, M. and Pierce, R. (2017) Political and Ethical Aspects in the Ethnography of Policy Translation: Research Experiences from Turkey and China. Environment and Planning A, 49(3): 612-630.

Gerlak, A., and Mukhtarov, F. (2016) Many Faces of Security: Discursive Framing in Cross-border Natural Resource Governance in the Mekong River Commission. Globalizations, 13 (6): 719-740.

Thiel, A., Mukhtarov, F. and Zikos, D. (2015) Crafting or Designing? Science, Politics and Conditions Determining Processes of Intended Institutional Change for Social-Ecological Systems. Environmental Science and Policy, 53 (B): 81-86.

Mukhtarov, F., Fox, S., Mukhamedova, N., and Wegerich, K. (2015) Institutional Design in the Face of Contextual Relevance: Water User Associations in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Environmental Science and Policy, 53 (B): 206-214.

Gerlak, A. and Mukhtarov, F. (2015) ‘Ways of Knowing Water’: Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Security as Complementing Discourses. International Negotiations and Environmental Agreements (INEA), 15 (3): 257–272.

Mukhtarov, F. (2014) Rethinking the Travel of Ideas: Policy Translation in the Water Sector. Policy and Politics, 42 (1): 71-88. 

Mukhtarov, F. and Gerlak, A. (2014) Epistemic Forms of Integrated Water Resources Management: Towards Versatility of Knowledge. Policy Sciences, 47 (2): 101-120.

 Mukhtarov, F., Osseweijer, P., and Pierce, R. (2014) The Global Governance of Biofuels: Case for Private Governance? Bio-based and Applied Economics, 3 (3): 101-110.

Mukhtarov, F. and Gerlak, A. (2013) River Basin Organizations in the Global Water Discourse: an Exploration of Agency and Strategy. Global Governance, 19 (2): 307-326.

Mukhtarov, F., Brock, A., Janssen, S., and Guigner, A. (2013) Actors and Strategies in Translating Global Conservation Narratives to Vietnam. Policy and Society, 32 (2): 113-124 


Mukhtarov, F., Papyrakis, E., and Rieger, M., (2022) Covid-19 and Water Management. In Papyrakis et al. (Eds), Covid-19 and International Development. Springer.

Mukhtarov, F. (2020) Box 6.1 The hegemony of river basin organizations: A cautionary tale. Box 6.1, In Mirumachi, N., Zeitoun, M., and Warner, J. (Eds). Water Conflicts: Analysis for Transformation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pages 134-135.

Gaddis, E., Grellier, J., Grobicki, A., Hay, R., Mirumachi, N., Mukhtarov, F., Rast, W. (2019) Chapter 16: Freshwater Policy. In Sixth Global Environmental Outlook, United Nations Environment. Nairobi: Cambridge University Press and UN Environment, pages 399-424.

Gerlak, A., and Mukhtarov, F. (2018) Many Faces of Security: Discursive Framing in Cross-border Natural Resource Governance in the Mekong River Commission. In Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda (Eds) Environmental Security in Transnational Contexts: What Relevance for Regional Human Security Regimes? Routledge, London, pp. 67-89. March, 2018.

Mukhtarov, F. and Daniell, K. (2018) Transfer, diffusion, adaptation and translation of water policy models. In Ken Conca and Erika Weindthal (Eds), Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy, Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 594-616. March, 2018.

Thiel, A., and Mukhtarov, F. (2018) Purposeful Institutional Change for Adaptive Governance of Natural Resources: How to Cater for Agency and Context? In “The Sage Handbook of Nature”, Ed (Terry Marsten), Sage, London, pp143-161. March 2018.

Mukhtarov, F. (2017) Reflexivity, Positionality, and  Normativity in Studying Policy Translation. In Tobias Berger, Alejandro Esguerra (Eds), Translation in World Politics. Routledge Series of the Centre on Global Cooperation, London, pp. 114-133.

Mukhtarov, F. and Cherp, A. (2014) The hegemony of integrated water resources management as a global water discourse. In Victor Squires, Hugh Milner, and Katherine Daniell (Eds), River Basin Management in Twenty-First Century: Understanding People and Places, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp. 3-21.

Mukhtarov, F. (2013) Translating water policy innovations into Kazakhstan: the importance of context. In Cheryl de Boer, Joanne-de Kruijf, Gul Ozerol and Hans Bressers (Eds), Water Governance, Policy and Knowledge Transfer: International Studies on Contextual Water Management, Earthscan: London, pp. 113-128.

Mukhtarov, F. (2008) Intellectual history and current status of integrated water resources management: a global perspective. In Claudia Pahl-Wostl , Pavel Kabat, Joerg Möltgen (Eds), Adaptive and Integrated Water Management: Coping with Complexity and Uncertainty. Berlin: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp.167-185.

Mukhtarov, F. (2008) The Prospects of Privatization of Water Supply Services: With Focus on Private Sector Participation in Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in Secondary Towns of Azerbaijan. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller.


Mukhtarov, F. (2018). Book review of Wilder, M. 2017. Special Festschrift “Ways of knowing: Helen Ingram and water scholarship”. Water Alternatives 11(1): 209-213

Mukhtarov, F. (2017) Policies on the move: Translation, assemblages and ethnography. Book review essay. Environment and Planning C, 35 (1): 191-194.

Mukhtarov, F. and Cherp, A. (2015) Water security. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press.

Cherp, A. and Mukhtarov, F. (2015) Energy security. Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford University Press.


Van Kesteren, K.J. and Mukhtarov, F. (2022). Interview: “Nederlandse Water-Diplomatie Moet Veel Transparanter”. H2O, 4: 20-21. Koninklijk Nederlands Waternetwerk. Online:

Mukhtarov, F., Minkman, E., and Hasan, S. (2022). The Netherlands as a Global Hydro-Hub. Water Governance Tijdschrift: Bouwen met de Natuur 1 (April), 62-65. Online:

Franko-Filipasic, E. and Mukhtarov, F. (2021). Researchgate Interview: Dr. Farhad Mukhtarov on global hydro-hubs and water governance. Appeared on 21 August 2021.

Mukhtarov, F., and Gasper, D. (2021). From ‘merchants and ministers’ to ‘neutral brokers’: how the Dutch do water diplomacy. A blog post on bliss, ISS Blog on Global Development and Social Justice, 15 December, 2021. Online:

Gaddis, E., Grellier, J., Grobicki, A., Hay, R., Mirumachi, N., Mukhtarov, F., Rast, W. (2019) Chapter 16: Freshwater Policy. In Sixth Global Environmental Outlook, United Nations Environment. Nairobi: Cambridge University Press and UN Environment, pages 399-424.

Witjes, M., Koop, S. H. A., Mukhtarov, F., Dieperink, C., Driessen, P. P. J., & van Leeuwen, C. J. (2019). The potential of Digital Social Platforms in enhancing urban water governance: Report on the UWCS governance analyses of the Key Demonstration Cities–POWER–Political and sOcial awareness on Water EnviRonmental challenges.

Mukhtarov, F., Huitema, D., Medvey, J., Kouwenhoven, R., Uribe, M., and Funke, N. (2011) Agency in Biodiversity Conservation: Park Decisions in Developing countries, International Meta-Trends and their Implementation. EC FP-7 LiveDiverse Project Background Report 2 for 6.2.

Mukhtarov, F. (2009) Integrated Water Resources Management: Global Water Collaborations on the Rise. Water World, online. URL:

Mukhtarov, F. (2009). UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (2009) IWRM Implementation in Basins, Sub-basins and Aquifers: State of the Art Review. Contributor.

Mukhtarov, F. (2005) Review of the experience of using economic environmental policy instruments in Azerbaijan. The Caspian Panorama, (1): 17–19.

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