Designing institutions for watershed management: A case study of the Urmia Lake Restoration National Committee

Jalil Salimi
Technology Foresight Group, Department of Management, Science and Technology, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Tehran, Iran; j_salimi@aut.ac.ir

Reza Maknoon
Technology Foresight Group, Department of Management, Science and Technology, Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic), Tehran, Iran; rmaknoon@aut.ac.ir

Sander Meijerink
Radboud University, Institute for Management Research, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; s.meijerink@fm.ru.nl

ABSTRACT: One of the prescriptions of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is to organise water resources management on a watershed or basin scale, which usually involves the establishment of special-purpose organisations. This paper contributes to the discussion on the functioning of these organisations and, more specifically, on the relationship between their institutional design and their performance. An in-depth case study of the Urmia Lake Restoration National Committee (ULRNC) in Iran reveals that the committee has been successful in drafting ambitious plans and policies for restoring Urmia Lake. However, there is a serious risk of implementation failure due to contradictory national policy agendas of lake restoration and agricultural development, insufficient budget allocation for realising the restoration plan, lack of provincial accountability for the spending of resources made available for the implementation of restoration measures, and potential future political instability which may lead to less attention to the restoration process.

KEYWORDS: Watershed management, river basin organisation, institutional analysis, Urmia Lake, Iran