The scalar organisation of environmental governance: theorizing and evaluating the transformation of water and marine governance in the EU

April 2012

DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Einsteinstiftung Berlin

Andreas Thiel


  • Anja Betker
  • Nadine Schröder

The  project  aims  to  theorize the  scalar organization of natural  resource  governance  in  the European Union. This research agenda is inspired by critical geographers’ work on the politics of scale. The research will examine an analytical framework derived from theories of institutional change  and  multi-level  governance  to  fill  this  theoretical  gap.  Furthermore,  it will   review   conceptualizations   of   the   state   in   institutional   economics,   evaluate   their adequacy  to  capture  the  role  of  the  state  in  the  dynamics  identified,  and  develop  them further.
The described processes may imply shifts in administrative levels, shifts in relations between different levels and changes in spatial delimitations of competent jurisdictions that result,  for  example,  from  decentralization  or  the  introduction  of  river  basin  oriented administrative   structures.   The   research   investigates   the   implications  of   two  European Directives:  the  Water  Framework  Directive  (WFD)  and  the  Marine  Strategy  Framework Directive  (MSFD).  They  both  have  potentially  great  significance  for the  organization  of marine  and  water  governance  at  the  level  of  Member  States  and  below,  and  adhere  to similar regulatory ideas for achieving good ecological status of waters. A multiple case study on changes in the scalar reorganization of marine and water governance that result from the implementation   of   the   Directives   will   be   carried   out.   It   will   rely   on   qualitative   and quantitative  data  gathering  based  on  semi- structured  interviews  and  review  of  secondary and  tertiary  sources  looking  at  Portugal,  Spain,and  Germany.  It  specifically  addresses  the role of social ecological transactions, the structure of decision making processes and the role of   changes   in   contextual   factors   (such   as   ideologies,   interdependent   institutions   and technology). Further, the research will develop methodologies to evaluate recent processes concerning the scalar organisation of natural resource governance in the EU.