A case study of Iran’s water governance system

Information exchange and distribution of stakeholder’s influence in national water governance policy networks


Behshad Mohajer: The exchange of information and resources implements water policies through a network of actors and institutional rules. Due to the rapid change in physical systems, such as hydrological system processes or socio-economic and political settings, the structures and distribution of authority may also deviate from an ideal state. Characterization of this network is of great importance for identifying influential actors and their adaptation to change induced by external drivers. This understanding will contribute to the design of sustainable and resilient water policy networks. This study investigates the main stakeholders and social processes controlling a water policy network. Characterizing the system’s structure, agents, roles, and connections is crucial to understanding the social dynamics of complex human-water systems. Categorization of stakeholders provides valuable insights into infrastructure operation and resource allocation when dealing with complex socio-hydrological systems. We propose a multi-method approach to first synthesize the available frameworks of national water governance of Iran and then adapt the framework plus social network analysis to characterize influential stakeholders and their dynamic feedback system conceptually. Data from multiple sources will be utilized to map stylized governance systems. The proposed quantitative and qualitative analyses aim to investigate the main stakeholders and social processes controlling the performance of a water policy network at a national level. We will apply our proposed approach to Iran's water governance network. We anticipate that the proposed analysis highlights the crucial barriers and constraints in implementing sustainable water policies and can be used in developing collaborative human-water models to investigate system adaptation to water scarcity. The learnings from the proposed stylized model are also beneficial to characterizing the dynamic feedback system of stakeholders at the national levels. This process will contribute to cross-case comparison in studying the political economy of water in various climatic and socio-economic settings.

Behshad Mohajer: Water Systems Policy and Analysis Researcher, Phoenix, AZ Illustration: Assad Binakhahi

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