Intensive cross-border movement of policy models is ubiquitous in the water sector. Examples include Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), Water User Associations (WUAs), and River Basin Organizations (RBOs), which have travelled around the world. However, despite the spread of global water policy models and their potential importance for sustainable development, scholars have struggled to develop adequate accounts of this process. To bridge this gap, we examine the extant analytical and methodological tools to study the movement of water policy models. We focus on the fit between a policy model and the context, the micro-politics of knowledge translation, and the inherent contingencies involved in water policy. Having recognized these obstacles, we offer some ways of conceptualizing the movement of water policy models. We illustrate each approach with vignettes from around the world.
The paper is to appear in Oxford Handbook of Water Policy and Politics, Oxford University Press in 2017.