Frederick Bouckaert

Frederick Bouckaert

Frederick Bouckaert has extensive experience in ecological field monitoring and analysis, including macroinvertebrate monitoring in the Swan River (WA), algal monitoring in the ACT, assessment of impacts from uranium mining in Kakadu National Park and coordinating the Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA) for the Murray-Darling Basin. He joined the Murray-Darling Basin Commission/Authority in 2002, and lead the SRA team as a Director from 2010-2013. In 2015, he was volunteering for three months for SEI-Asia, to assist with research on water quality issues in the Chindwin Basin in Myanmar.

He holds a first-class BSc(Hon) in Environmental Science (Aquatic Ecology) from Murdoch University and a Master of Integrated Water Management from the International Water Centre ( Frederick is currently undertaking a PhD at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland. His research topic examines the role of River Basin Organizations in sustainable management of river basins.

France, China, Brazil And Australia: Stakeholders And River Basin Governance.

Good river basin governance is often still elusive due to poor stakeholder engagement and poor integration with sustainable management of water, ecosystems and biodiversity.  We examined the effectiveness of river basin organisations for integrating good governance with strategic river basin management and restoration plans using a diagnostic framework to interview participating stakeholders.

The framework uses four functional governance and four biophysical indicators scored on current capacity and measures of performance. In the Garonne in France, the Yellow River in China, the São Francisco in Brazil and Murray-Darling in Australia, participating stakeholders were interviewed on their vision, influence and contribution to sustainable river management, using semi-structured interviews and asked to score capacity and influence of the key indicators.

Patterns of indicator scoring were analysed to examine stakeholder participation within the strategic development and decision-making functions of river basin organisations. Different governance models are contrasted in terms of stakeholder representation and engagement.

Stakeholder expectations in terms of representation and engagement vary widely. Decision-making is often skewed towards political and economic interests, which promote reactive rather than proactive management strategies to deal with challenges of sustainable and equitable water resource management and river restoration. Many stakeholders identify the lack of institutional integration between basin-wide and local management scales and across sectoral divisions.

The complexity and fragmentation of institutional landscapes is common in all four river basins, and results in lack of clarity, roles, and accountability, impacting effective collaboration. Institutional reform is often viewed as essential for the success of effective implementation of river basin management plans and their long-term performance evaluation.

Asking non-technical stakeholder groups to score the condition for functional indicators of the diagnostic framework provides a participation tool in performance evaluation. Limitations of the framework include subjective indicator scoring, requiring complementary technical information for underpinning robust water planning and river restoration.

The role of River Basin Organisations in sustainable management of river basins: case studies from around the world.

River Basin management can be conceptualized as the co-evolution of and interaction between dynamic biophysical natural systems and their socio-economic geo-political equivalent. Integrated River Basin Management institutional best practice currently strongly advocates the River Basin Organisation (RBO) model as pivotal to achieve sustainable management outcomes. Unlike RBOs in transboundary settings, smaller nationally bounded RBOs are relatively poorly studied. How well are RBOs placed to deliver on their original management objectives? How flexible are they with regard to changing demands, which may originate from external drivers such as climate change and population growth? Can they deliver on sustainability objectives that are set in an international context, such as the Sustainable Development Goals? What can we learn from the way RBOs have performed to date? This meta-analysis investigates the effectiveness of four RBOs as a governance model for sustainable management of river basins. Sustainable management is defined as the ability to provide water security and ecosystem services security to its beneficiaries. Context specific governance issues will be analyzed across dimensions of political science, organizational behaviour, institutional arrangements, resourcing and its core functions such as data generation, provision and restoration, and the impact of program implementation on the biophysical system of the basin being managed.  The analysis will determine which key information is required from decision-makers, RBO staff and beneficiaries, in order to develop performance indicators for the selected RBOs. Management stages of planning, implementing and evaluating outputs coupled back to evidence based management outcomes and feedback loops will be explored.

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