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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning to plan for integrated water resources management in British Columbia Creighton, Sheila Carolyn


Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is a holistic, inclusive mode of decision making that has developed in response to the increasing complexity, uncertainty and conflict that characterize one of British Columbia's primary and most valuable natural resources. It is a management tool that recognizes the interrelatedness of resource uses with each other and within the broader social and economic systems which influence the state and use of water resources. To date, success with IWRM in B.C. has been limited. Many of the opportunities to plan for IWRM in B.C are made available through a wide range of multi-stakeholder land use planning processes. This research evaluates planning for integrated water resources management in British Columbia's Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) processes from a social learning perspective. Drawing from the principles of systems theory, it is argued that learning represents a fundamental form of feedback in sustainable water resource management. Through a series of six LRMP case studies, the evaluation addresses the acquisition of new knowledge relating to water resources gained by MELP's Water Management Program through their involvement LRMPs, and the dissemination and utilization of this new knowledge in subsequent planning efforts. The research results provide insight into the organizational learning culture within which integrated water resources management is developing and detail specific lessons gained through LRMP experiences. Drawing from the insights of those individuals who participated in this study, it is evident that learning within Water Management occurs through the incremental adjustments of decisions and actions. While the organization is adept at acquiring new knowledge, this study reveals that it is weak in disseminating that knowledge. This weakness limits its overall learning potential. Recommendations are directed towards expanding the learning potential and capacity of Water Management specifically in the areas of knowledge dissemination and utilization, thereby leading to greater future success with IWRM. Further recommendations are also directed towards the various agencies and organizations who collectively enable and are responsible for delivering effective IWRM in B.C.

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