Capacity attributes of future urban water management regimes: projections from Australian sustainability practitioners

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Transitioning to more sustainable urban water management is widely accepted as an essential societal objective. While there has been significant progress in developing technical solutions to the challenges faced, numerous barriers remain at the regime level, indicating that further investigation into the regime is required. This paper reports on a social research project aimed at identifying capacity attributes of a more sustainable urban water management regime. Attributes were identified for the administrative and regulatory framework, inter- and intra-organisational and individual regime spheres. Over 125 urban water practitioners specialising in sustainability in Sydney and Melbourne were interviewed to identify the attributes of a more sustainable regime. The attributes reveal that a sustainable urban water management regime emphasises learning, diverse policy tools and institutional arrangements, together with interaction among stakeholders and professional disciplines. The interaction is characterised by respect, trust and mutual understanding. The sustainable regime attributes are compared to the traditional regime and reveal that while progress has been made towards a sustainable regime, additional improvement is required. Attributes identified across multiple regime spheres indicate potential focus areas for capacity building programs or reform efforts to more effectively enable regime change towards sustainable urban water management.

Keywords: institutional capacity assessment, institutional capacity attributes, regime, sustainable urban water management

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