The birth and spread of IWRM – A case study of global policy diffusion and translation

Jeremy Allouche
Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; j.allouche@ids.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: How did the idea of IWRM emerge at the global level? Why has IWRM become so popular and so resilient, at least in discourse and policy? What has caused IWRM policies to diffuse across time and space? The principal goal of this article is to identify a set of concepts and mechanisms to study the global diffusion and translation of IWRM through coercion, cooperation, or learning from the ground. The article will also highlight the extent to which this global diffusion was contested and translated into different meanings in terms of policy orientation. Overall, IWRM was a mindset of a particular period where the water policy paradigm was evolving in the same direction as sustainable development and other related paradigms in a post-Rio moment. There were no clear alternatives at the time but now IWRM is being questioned. This IWRM fatigue is leading to other framings and discourses around the water-food-energy nexus and the green economy.

KEYWORDS: IWRM, water, policy process, global diffusion, global translation