Beyond institutional participation: Alternative forms of citizens engagement for water democracy

The University of Limoges (France), 17 and 18 November 2016.

The research chair Environmental Capital and Sustainable Management of Rivers[1] together with the Rés-eaux[2], seek proposals from all actors involved – water managers, water users, activists, elected officials, associations, NGOs, researchers, etc. – for contributions to a symposium on alternative forms of participation in water management.


Participatory democracy for water management is widely put into practice today by international, national and local institutions.  But is it effective, or is it rather a optical illusion, an argument put forward with limited or even harmful effects? Given the limits – and the critiques - of participatory democracy in the management of water, what alternative forms of participation are emerging?

This symposium aims to explore alternative forms of participation in water management in all its forms within the hydrosocial cycle (Linton & Budds, 2014), whether it involves surface water, groundwater, or drinking water and sanitation systems. Beyond the functional links between the different areas and water uses, we are interested in promoting interactions between various stakeholders with respect to their observations and experiences involving alternative forms of participation in these various areas of water management.

These alternative forms of participation can be a priori grouped around three themes:

A - Innovations and new forms of participation generated or promoted within institutions / existing formal structures (French examples would include inovations within Schemes for Development and Water Management (SAGEs); River Contracts; Local Public Establishments, Basin Comittees, etc.);

B - Forms of participation, action and mobilization outside the established institutions, or at the margins of these institutions (developed by user associations or local action groups, environmentalists and citizens' movements, social and indigenous movements, etc. ); and

C - New participatory research tools and methods applied in the area of water management and conflict resolution (for example, participatory science and citizen science, participatory mapping practices, companion modeling, role playing exercises, etc.).

[1] A research program, initiated by GEOLAB UMR 6042 (UBP University of Clermont-Ferrand and University of Limoges), the University of Limoges Foundation and the SHEM. 

[2] The “Rés-EAUx” is a Research network on Water in social sciences based at the University Paris 8 and the University Paris Ouest (association), affiliated to LADYSS and LAVUE research laboratories. 


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