Bridging science and policy: Optimizing and operationalising the Governance Capacity Framework
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Considering current and future challenges for water management in cities, adequate water governance to deal with these challenges is crucial. The Governance Capacity Framework (GCF) is a tool to assess the governance capacity of an Urban Water Governance Network (UWGN). It consists of nine governance conditions, each specified into three characteristics. The GCF elucidates where improvements can be made in urban governance as to anticipate on current and future water-related challenges and facilitate the practical implementation of IWRM principles. This research provides a theoretical and practical optimization of the GCF and an appurtenant application strategy that is time-effective, easily and worldwide applicable. Literature study and expert judgement were crucial for both the theoretical optimization and the operationalisation of the GCF into a Water Governance (WG) score chart. The application strategy consists of a set of fifteen interviews, a thorough desk study and verification of the results with UWGN representatives. Interviewees have been selected from the strategic, tactical and operational governance level for the five wicked water-related challenges: (1) flood risk, (2) urban heat islands (UHI), (3) water scarcity, (4) wastewater treatment and (5) solid waste treatment. In the WG score chart, the Governance capacity can be assessed to be very limiting (--), limiting (-), indifferent (0), encouraging (+) or very encouraging (++). The tool was applied to the city of Amsterdam after which the GCF and WG score chart were practically optimized in terms of elimination of overlap, specification of target audience and alignment of theory and practice. The governance capacity of Amsterdam’s UWGN for the five wicked challenges is encouraging. Amsterdam has adequate governance capacity for dealing with flood risk, water scarcity and wastewater treatment. Improvements can be made regarding the transparency of information and knowledge co-creation as well as the alignment of data generating systems, processes and approaches. The governance capacity for solid waste treatment is adequate to facilitate good and adaptive management, but information sharing and cooperation require improvement. Adequate governance capacity and management for UHI is lacking leaving Amsterdam vulnerable for heat. Based on this insight recommendations are formulated. Therefore this research provides two products: (1) an optimized and operationalised GCF and (2) a governance capacity assessment of Amsterdam's UWGN.