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Actors' Role in Turning Constraints Into Opportunities: Disseminating Sustainable Urban Water Management Practices in Forest, Belgium
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1  Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Abstract: Since 2000, with the elaboration of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), a general agreement was achieved at the European level for implementing sustainable urban water management (SUWM) practices. However, there is criticism on the applicability of the WFD at the local level leading to disparities between administrative units of the same region or state (Andersson, Petersson, and Jarsjö 2012). Even so, research based on Australian cases shown that, regardless the regional or national legislation, discrepancies between administrative units have a local origin. In effect, they rest on the capacity for local governance systems to accept innovative ideas, to have a leading actor in SUWM practices and, to enhance interdisciplinary approaches (Brown and Libeman 2004). A recent concept, adaptive governance, aims to create similar conditions by combining top-down and bottom-up initiatives (Folke et al. 2005). The fit-for-purpose governance framework proposes a tool to evaluate the transition towards adaptive governance based on three steps: identifying the purpose, mapping the context and evaluating the outcome of governance strategies (Rijke et al. 2012).A similar discrepancy, at a smaller scale, in Brussels’ Capital Region, is perceived. Each commune has a different attitude towards disseminating SWUM practices. Among them, the commune of Forest proves to be one of the most advanced in this aspect by turning constraints into opportunities. For example, the lack of coordination between the communal and regional departments allowed the emergence of two key actors: the commune’s water service and an active non-governmental association. They maintained the dissemination and implementation of SWUM practices by organising working groups based on SWUM objectives. This paper investigates the conditions specific to the commune of Forest at the level of the local governance that allowed a faster dissemination of SUWM practices. The data gathered on site (semi-structured interviews with the main stakeholders, urban regulations and on-going SWUM projects) is analysed through fit-for-purpose governance framework. On the one hand, the paper draws conclusions about the level of development of the local governance and the current constraints on moving towards adaptive governance. On the other hand, it tests the limits of the fit-for-purpose framework in the case of Forest.Andersson, Ingela, Mona Petersson, and Jerker Jarsjö. 2012. “Impact of the European Water Framework Directive on Local-Level Water Management: Case Study Oxunda Catchment, Sweden.” Land Use Policy 29 (1): 73–82. Brown, M, and M Libeman. 2004. “Bringing Water Sensitive Design into Mainstream.”, Carl, Thomas Hahn, Per Olsson, and Jon Norberg. 2005. “Adaptive Governance of Social-Ecological Systems.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 30 (1): 441–73Rijke, Jeroen, Rebekah Brown, Chris Zevenbergen, Richard Ashley, Megan Farrelly, Peter Morison, and Sebastiaan van Herk. 2012. “Fit-for-Purpose Governance: A Framework to Make Adaptive Governance Operational.” Environmental Science & Policy 22 (October). Elsevier Ltd: 73–84.
Keywords: Sustainable urban water management, fit-for-purpose governance framework, Forest Belgium.