My latest article on water management in Alberta now out

My article, Water management and the procedural turn: norms and transitions in Alberta, is now out in Water Resources Management. I think it is behind a paywall so if you want a copy feel free to email me. I’m also writing up a guest blog post in ordinary (that is, non-academese) language for the Alberta Water Portal that should be done soon.

Here is the abstract:

Water management reforms promoting deliberative, decentralized decision making are often accompanied by procedures designed to accommodate a range of stakeholder perspectives. This paper considers the role of political and ethical norms affecting this ‘procedural turn’ in order to understand the management of transitions in complex socio-technical systems. It examines the discourse and practice of water reforms in Alberta, Canada in order to identify how new procedures were designed alongside changes to management institutions. It finds that the existing social and cultural context is an uneasy fit with procedural norms theorized in deliberative models of democracy. Using examples from the Alberta case, it draws out implications for understanding the procedural turn in water management and the role of norms affecting transitions toward sustainability.


  1. Sam Gunsch says:

    re: “It finds that the existing social and cultural context is an uneasy fit with procedural norms theorized in deliberative models of democracy. ”

    Context/evidence at the link below relevant IMO to understanding Alberta’s existing governance, i.e. corporatist.
    This river has a WPAC, as I see on the Water Portal.
    But it get’s a “pathetic” plan for monitoring and protection.
    Yeah…”uneasy fit” alright! ( no criticism…of course I understand the norms of academic writing.)

    AB procedural norms for governing public resources:
    What industry wants, GoA gives because AB is run in a joint-venture partnership between elected governments and vested interests. That’s the corporatist approach that is actually the rival to democracy based on citizens and the common good.
    See Mark Lisac’s Chapter 9, the Corporate Province, in his 1995 book The Klein Revolution. He coined the use of ‘joint-venture’ to describe corporatism in AB.

    Alberta’s plan for Athabasca River ‘pathetic’, critics say

    excerpt: “It’s pretty pathetic,” said David Schindler, a retired University of Alberta ecologist and a leading expert on fresh-water systems. “If you were to put this before a panel of international scientists, they would be incredulous.”

    excerpt: ““It’s not based in anything,” said Bill Donahue, a water scientist and a member of a panel that advises the province on environmental monitoring. “It involves no assessment of the capacity of the river to tolerate reductions in flow.””

    IMO, John Ralston Saul does the best treatment of corporatism vs democracy in his 1995 Massey Lecture book, The Unconscious Civilization. The 2005 edition has a preface that like Lisac’s treatment points out that it’s a different method of government/governance, not just big business/corporate influence.

    Sam Gunsch

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