STEER: Increasing Good Governance for Achieving the objectives of Integrated Water Resources Management
STEER aims to identify starting points for increasing good governance in relation to complex systemic challenges facing integrated water resources management (IWRM). In particular, the project will focus on water conflicts and on conditions that will encourage better coordination and collaboration between relevant actors. With this in mind, STEER plans to develop a diagnostic water governance toolbox. The toolbox will be aimed at regional, national and international actors who are committed to sustainably managing water resources. In terms of its spatial focus, the research will cover five in-depth case studies in Germany, South Africa, Mongolia and Spain, and up to 15 additional case studies which will be used to validate the results. As for its methods, the project will build on qualitative comparative case studies to examine in detail the factors that influence coordination and collaboration.
  • Examine how governance characteristics and management systems influence efforts to solve complex challenges in water resources management
  • Observe the effects of social and environmental frameworks as a basis for transferring elements of effective governance systems
  • Develop innovative forms of coordination and collaboration to help solve water conflicts


Water resources are at risk in many parts of the world because the different types of use are not sufficiently harmonised. The complexity of numerous water conflicts presents IWRM with major challenges for which no satisfactory solutions yet exist. In light of this, STEER will research innovative forms of coordination and collaboration to increase good governance across all sectors and thus solve water conflicts. STEER will work at the subnational level because existing research is almost exclusively limited to coordination efforts at the national level. At the heart of the project is a diagnostic approach that will allow researchers to investigate typical problems and develop appropriate strategies for solving them.

More information about the joint research project is available here.


Prof Dr Claudia Pahl-Wostl, coordinator of the GRoW joint project STEER, published together with her co-authors the article "Enhancing the capacity of water governance to deal with complex management challenges: A framework of analysis".
STEER has started a workshop series focussing on cross-sectoral coordination challenges and potential instruments to address those issues. During the last months, STEER had analysed coordination problems between the water sector and other sectors (e.g., agriculture, mining) in its five in-depth case studies. The current workshop series serves to present results to stakeholders, get their feedback, and discuss potential measures to address regional challenges.
The STEER project hosted a session during the Leverage Points 2019 conference, which took place in Lüneburg, Germany, on February 6th-8th. In session 6.2 entitled “Institutional design for transformative change in water governance”, STEER researchers addressed innovations for integrated, adaptive water management and transformations towards sustainable governance of water resources, based on insights from Germany, Spain, Mongolia, and South Africa.