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Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in South Africa

Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in... ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 2023, VOL. 19, NO. 1, 2213780 https://doi.org/10.1080/26395916.2023.2213780 RESEARCH Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in South Africa a b a,c d e Catherine B. Pringle , Richard Meissner , Reinette Biggs , Claudia Pahl-Wostl , Sabine Stuart-Hill and Nadia Sitas a b Centre for Sustainability Transitions, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Department of Political Sciences, University of c d South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Institute of Geography and Institute of Environmental Systems Research, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany; Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Received 24 May 2022 We explore the social processes supporting transformation towards collaborative water Accepted 4 May 2023 governance in the uMngeni catchment, South Africa. Using Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic of phases (conservation, release, reorganisation and exploitation) present during EDITED BY transformation of social-ecological systems, we consider the role of learning, power, agency Matthew Weaver and structure during each phase of the evolution of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure KEYWORDS Partnership (UEIP). The UEIP is a partnership between government, research institutions, and Transformation; adaptive civil society groups that facilitates broader and more collaborative participation in water cycle; learning; power, management. During the conservation phase, strong control power and institutional struc- agency; structure; ture (denoted by a hierarchical governance mode embodying control and regulation by the collaborative water State) limited the introduction of new ideas and reinforced single-loop learning. The release governance; uMngeni phase was triggered by a shock which weakened control power and permitted the introduc- catchment tion of new ideas thereby enabling double-loop learning. The changing conditions gave rise to protean power (defined as results of practices of agile actors coping with uncertainty) which enhanced the agency of key actors who began to mobilise others in a rapid phase of re-organisation. Triple-loop learning was evident in the exploitation phase as new collabora- tive institutions, that were better able to accommodate innovative ideas, began to emerge. We found the adaptive cycle helpful for delineating phases of change, while the four multi- faceted processes of learning, power, agency and structure proved useful in illuminating dynamics of change. This understanding may help to inform actions to steer transformations towards more sustainable and collaborative water governance in South Africa and elsewhere. Introduction knowing and meaning (Johannessen et al. 2018). Triple- loop learning is only possible though when more intri- The depth of the social and environmental challenges cate political (power relations) and social (structure- that we face calls for profound changes in the govern- agency-learning) aspects are addressed (Flood and ance of interlinked social and ecological systems. How Room 2018). However, these processes and their transformation to more equitable and sustainable dynamics are not well-understood, and there is limited futures can be realised, is increasingly discussed and guidance available to governments or other actors about debated (Future Earth 2014; Patterson et al. 2017; how to foster or support transformative change. Leach et al. 2018). Transformation requires radical Although there is consensus that transformation and systemic changes in multiple aspects of social- requires fundamental change, diverse world views have ecological systems such as changes in values and beliefs, fostered different understandings and applications of the patterns of social behaviour, and multilevel governance concept. The term ‘transformation’ is used both strategi- and management regimes (Olsson et al. 2014; Sievers- cally to offer a potential solution to issues that are prac- Glotzbach and Tschersich 2019; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. tical and socially desirable as well as analytically to study 2020). Such processes typically involve interactions of and explain past and present developments (Brand multiple factors, acting at different scales (Olsson et al. 2016). The strategic use of the concept does not engage 2006, 2014). Central to transformative change is triple- with structural barriers to transformation. However, its loop learning, which progresses from changes in estab- analytical application takes into account the hierarchical lished paradigms (single-loop learning), to challenging aspects of societies and the ways in which individuals and underlying assumptions (double-loop learning), and groups are situated in relation to social structures and finally towards structural change and new ways of CONTACT Catherine B. Pringle catherine.kate.pringle@gmail.com © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent. 2 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. systems of power (social and power positions). These learning, power, agency and structure, shift during positions are established according to relations of class, different phases of change. Below we describe the gender, and race and are reflected in economic, political, adaptive cycle and how we interpret these four social and cultural interactions (Brand 2016). In this paper, we processes in the context of our study. use an analytical approach to explore existing structures and narratives to better understand transformation. Adaptive cycle Several analytical and conceptual frameworks have emerged for analysing transformations. These include The adaptive cycle is a heuristic framework that has the multi-level perspective framework (MLP) (Geels been widely used to describe phases of change in 2011; El Bilali 2019), transitions management (Kemp social-ecological systems (Gunderson and Holling et al. 2007; El Bilali 2019), innovation systems 2002). It has also proved useful for illuminating (Lachman 2013) and social-ecological transforma- dynamics in social systems, including governance tions (and broader resilience theory) (Olsson et al. systems (Gunderson and Holling 2002; Bohensky 2004, 2006). Despite extensive application of these 2008; Daedlow et al. 2011; Herrfahrdt-Pähle and frameworks, various shortcomings have been identi- Pahl-Wostl 2012; Westley et al. 2013; Salvia and fied. The MLP has been criticized for amongst others, Quaranta 2015). The adaptive cycle is based on two underplaying the role of agency (Smith et al. 2005; dimensions, the range of potential in the system and Geels 2011), omitting institutions and ideologies the degree of connectedness (Gunderson and Holling (Geels 2011; Meadowcroft 2011), and failing to ade- 2002) (Figure 1). Potential (represented on the quately address power and politics (Geels 2011; Kern Y-axis) describes the wealth of ecological, social or 2011; Meadowcroft 2011). Transitions management economic resources available to a system for change has tended to simplify the scope of the transition and (Holling 2001; Bohensky 2008; Westley et al. 2013; neglected the influence of internal and external fac- Sundstrom and Allen 2019). These resources may be tors such as belief systems, political interests, and accumulated or released and set the limits of possible culture (Lachman 2013), while social-ecological options (Holling 2001; Gunderson and Holling 2002). transformations (and broader resilience theory) have Connectedness (represented on the X-axis) reflects been criticised for not considering the role of power the strength of internal relationships and processes and politics in transformation processes (Pelling and that mediate and regulate external influences (Holling Manuel-Navarrete 2011; Fabinyi et al. 2014; Moore 2001; Bohensky 2008). Low connectedness implies et al. 2014; Olsson et al. 2014). Although scholars in a set of diffuse components loosely connected to some fields have sought to address these concerns, one another, whose behaviour is dominated by out- they have tended to analyse pieces of the transforma- side variability. High connectedness is associated with tion puzzle, such as the role of learning (e.g. Armitage aggregated components that mediate the influence of et al. 2008; Pahl-Wostl et al. 2013; Johannessen et al. external variability (Gunderson and Holling 2002). 2018), power (e.g. Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete Connectedness also provides a measure of the degree 2011; Avelino and Wittmayer 2016) and agency (e.g. of flexibility or rigidity of a system (Holling 2001; Westley et al. 2013; Sannino 2015) but have rarely Gunderson and Holling 2002). A highly internally captured the dynamic and inter-dependent relation- connected system is often rigid and vulnerable to ships between social processes that occur during a shock or disturbance because of reduced diversity transformations. and an inability to self-organise (Fath et al. 2015; We address this gap and investigate the role of Sundstrom and Allen 2019). four interdependent social processes, namely, learn- Together, potential and connectedness shape four ing, power, agency, and structure, in transformation interlinked phases of change: growth or exploitation towards collaborative water governance. Using a case (r), conservation (K), collapse or release (Ω) and study of a collaborative water partnership in South reorganization (α) (Gunderson and Holling 2002) Africa, we aim to explore the role of these processes (Figure 1). It is assumed that complex systems move in different stages of transformation, as defined by from exploitation to a mature phase of conservation the adaptive cycle (Gunderson and Holling 2002). on the front loop of the cycle. As potential and con- Our objective is to strengthen analytical understand- nectedness increase, the system becomes rigid and ing of transformation, and thereby inform strategic vulnerable, and a new phase of release may be trig- actions to support transformative change. gered by a disturbance. The system then shifts to the back loop of the cycle where the release of accumu- lated resources is quickly followed by a period of Conceptual framework reorganization. At the end of the reorganization To achieve our aim, we first map the evolution of phase, the system may enter a second iteration of an a collaborative water partnership onto the adaptive alternatively configured system (Holling 1986). cycle, and then explore how different facets of Adaptive cycles can be connected in a nested ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 3 Figure 1. The adaptive cycle showing the four phases of change (exploitation, conservation, release and reorganization) along the dimensions of connectedness (x-axis) and potential (y-axis) (adapted from Gunderson and Holling (2002) and Westley et al. (2013)). hierarchy at multiple scales of space and time. This learning entails making improvements within interacting set of hierarchical scales is known as established paradigms; double-loop learning panarchy. occurs when reframing challenges established beliefs, while triple-loop learning involves struc- tural change and new ways of knowing and Learning, power, agency and structure meaning (Argyris 1999; Pahl-Wostl et al. 2013; We focus our analysis on four social processes, Johannessen et al. 2018). namely, learning, power, agency and structure, as sev- Power: We draw on the concept of social power eral scholars recognize them as essential components ‘the capacity of persons to bring about certain of transformation in social-ecological systems. For states of affairs by influencing the actions of instance, Pahl-Wostl (2009), Pahl-Wostl et al. (2013) others by giving them a reason to act’ (Stahl and others consistently highlight the importance of 2011, p. 351). We differentiate four types of multi-loop learning in transformative processes (see power: control power, agential power, protean also Armitage et al. 2008; Johannessen et al. 2018) power and ideational power. Control power is while Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete (2011) draw usually understood in behavioural, institutional, attention to the crucial role of power in determining and structural terms (Katzenstein and Seybert when and how transformations occur. Similarly, there 2018) and refers to the consequences of actions has been much discussion on how agency influences in contexts of risk that are experienced as such system dynamics (see for example Emirbayer and by actors (Katzenstein and Seybert 2018). In Mische 1998; Garud and Karnoe 2005; Westley et al. contrast to relatively passive control power, 2013) and the interaction between agency and struc- agents may acquire power through intentional ture has been the subject of a long-running debate actions or through inaction or failure to act (Bourdieu 1977; Giddens 1984; Archer 2003; Unger (Hayward and Lukes 2008). This type of power 2004). In a new conceptual framework proposed by is underpinned by structuration theory and is Lotz-Sisitka et al. (Forthcoming), these four social captured in the concept of reflexive agential processes are also recognized as useful start-up lenses power defined as the ability ‘ . . . to enhance for analyzing larger transformative processes, particu- their power by working “through” or “with”, larly in nexus settings. rather than “against”, social forces at the domes- Learning, power, agency, and structure are multi- tic, regional and global levels’ (Hobson and faceted and can be understood in different ways. Ramesh 2002, p. 9–10). Although Hobson and Below we outline how we understand and apply Ramesh’s (2002) definition is commonly used in these concepts within our study. political sciences, we acknowledge that agential Learning: We focus on transformative learning power is a contested concept (Gilabert 2018). and consider three types of learning loops: sin- The power of agents may also emerge in relation gle, double and triple-loop learning. Single loop to uncertain contexts and is captured in the 4 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. notion of protean power. Katzenstein and strategic investment in ecological infrastructure by Seybert (2018) define protean power as the enabling coordination, collaboration and joint results of practices of agile actors coping with learning. uncertainty. Finally, we consider ideational The UEIP was formally established in November 2013 power, the capacity of actors (whether indivi- upon the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding dual or collective) to influence other actors’ (MoU) by 16 founding partner organisations (UEIP normative and cognitive beliefs through the 2013). The launch of the UEIP followed a turbulent use of ideational elements (Carstensen and period of service delivery protests and water shortages, Schmidt 2016; Meissner and Warner 2021). which prompted key actors to rethink water manage- Agency: We rely on theories of transformative ment strategies. This turbulent period formed part of the agency, and its dynamics as it relates to indivi- crisis narrative from which the UEIP emerged. Since its duals and groups. Individual agency refers to the launch, the Partnership has become institutionalized capacity of an individual to influence their func- with its activities managed by a fulltime co-ordinator, tioning and the course of events by their actions a coordinating committee, and a research sub- (Bandura 2001), whereas strategic agency is pro- committee. duced through the actions of several actors The UEIP operates within the uMngeni catchment rather than those of just one individual (Garud located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South and Karnoe 2005; Westley et al. 2013). Africa (Figure 2). The catchment covers less than 5% of Structure: Our evaluation of social structure the province but provides water to 42% of KZN’s popu- considers both institutional and relational struc- lation, including the economic hub of Durban governed ture. Institutional structure encompasses the by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (Pringle formal and informal norms that shape indivi- et al. 2016; UEIP 2016; Meissner 2021). The catchment dual action, while relational structure includes includes the 225 km-long uMngeni River which rises in the relations between actors in the network the uMngeni Vlei in the west and flows through (López and Scott 2000). uMgungundlovu District Municipality and the These processes are emergent and interdependent eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality before entering and can be iteratively related to one another. They the Indian Ocean just north of Durban. are also strongly influenced by context as well as The catchment is primarily used for commercial spatial and temporal scales (Lotz-Sisitka et al. agricultural activities including cattle, dairy, poultry, Forthcoming). sugar cane and timber production. These activities, coupled with rapidly expanding urban and peri- urban areas, have significantly impacted water quality Case study: the uMngeni ecological while the spread of invasive alien plants has adversely infrastructure partnership affected water availability (Jewitt et al. 2015). Demand This study focuses on the evolution of the uMngeni for water from the catchment also exceeds its ability Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP) within to supply a burgeoning population and increased the broader water governance system of the uMngeni economic activity. Consequently, the catchment is catchment. This evolution entailed a process by ‘closed’, meaning that all available water has been allocated and the catchment is in water deficit which the prevalent water governance system shifted into a new configuration of collaboration, which we (DWA 2013). assume represents a transformation. As with other catchments in South Africa, the The UEIP is a collaborative partnership that uMngeni is managed by the Department of Water includes representatives from provincial and local and Sanitation (DWS), who is the designated legal government, research institutions, and business and custodian of the country’s water resources. In accor- civil society groups working in the uMngeni catch- dance with the National Water Act and Water ment (see Appendix A for a description of key parti- Services Act, the DWS is supported by several official cipants). The UEIP has been hailed as a flagship entities that are constituted by law (such as structure that can be applied in other catchments. Catchment Management Agencies, Water User Associations, Water Services Authorities, Water The Partnership is centred around the concept of ecological infrastructure, which refers to ‘naturally Service Providers, and Water Boards). There are functioning ecosystems that deliver valuable services also some voluntary platforms that stakeholders can participate in to discuss water resource issues, includ- to people, such as fresh water, climate regulation, soil formation and disaster risk reduction’ (SANBI ing Catchment Management Forums and the UEIP. 2013: 1). The UEIP aims to harness the potential of Although the UEIP itself does not have any decision- these intact, functioning ecosystems to complement making authority, it is regarded as flagship structure built infrastructure in order to improve water secur- that can strongly influence water resource manage- ity. To achieve this, the Partnership promotes ment decisions. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 5 Figure 2. Map indicating the location of the uMngeni catchment. Inset photo shows some of the UEIP participants (Photo credit: South African National Biodiversity Institute). Materials and methods and later refined using written records and per- sonal observations. Data collection and analysis (2) Various documents reporting on the UEIP, We applied an instrumental case study approach including minutes from UEIP meetings, work- shops and annual progress reports, as well as (Stake 2005; Yin 2009) to explore social processes in the different phases of transformation of the UEIP books, reports, journal articles and graduate stu- within the broader water governance system of the dent theses. Following the workshop, documents uMngeni catchment. Case study research draws on were gathered from key stakeholders involved multiple sources of evidence (Stake 2005; Yin 2009). (either currently or formerly) in the Partnership Documents may be used as a source of contextual and from a literature search conducted on Google information about events that cannot be directly Scholar using the term ‘uMngeni Ecological observed and are often coupled with personal obser- Infrastructure Partnership’. The latter yielded vations and experience of researchers involved in the a total of 52 documents, which were reviewed. case (Stake 1995). Documents which only briefly mentioned the For this study, we used data from two key sources: uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership were discarded leaving a total of 17 documents, (1) A group of researchers who have an in-depth which were included in the analysis (see understanding of the UEIP as they have been Appendix B). working in the catchment for more than a decade. During a Water-Energy-Food (WEF) To analyse the documents, we followed a deductive nexus workshop held in Grahamstown, South approach to identify information for (i) mapping the Africa in November 2019, a group of five evolution of the UEIP in terms of the adaptive cycle, researchers working in the uMngeni catchment and (ii) understanding the social processes within (four of whom are authors in this paper) each phase leading to change. Deductive approaches reflected on the four social processes during the are useful when researchers have a clear understand- evolution of the UEIP. These reflections were ing of the concepts that they are interested in captured on a flipchart with supporting notes (MacQueen et al. 1998). To identify the different 6 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. phases of the adaptive cycle, we developed pre- focused on three types of capital which we define as defined codes for selected dimensions of potential follows: and connectedness (namely trust and commitment, ● Social capital: ‘networks together with shared diversity of actors; diversity and strength of relation- norms, values and understandings that facilitate ships; and water governance approaches coded as cooperation within or among groups’ (OECD either systems or reductionist). This information 2001, p. 41); was later combined with other numerically based Natural capital: the stock of natural resources or indicators to reflect on the phases of the adaptive assets from which ecosystem services flow cycle. To explore the social processes within each (Costanza and Daly 1992; Costanza et al. 1997); phase leading to change we developed pre-defined Economic capital (or specifically financial capi- codes for the different dimensions of learning, tal): the financial resources which underpin eco- power, agency and structure (namely, single-, double- nomic activity (Goodwin 2003). and triple-loop learning; control, protean, ideational System potential was gauged from the levels of and agential power; individual and strategic agency; social, natural, and economic capital inferred from institutional structure coded as either hierarchical, levels of trust and commitment (Fu 2004; Nkhata network or hybrid governance styles, and relational et al. 2008; Myeong and Seo 2016), ecosystem con- structure coded as diversity of actors and level of dition (Grizzetti et al. 2019) and the amount of interaction). The documents were reviewed and stored financial capital, respectively (Table 1 and coded using these pre-defined codes to identify rele- Appendix C). These criteria were plotted and/or vant statements and examples of each dimension. The described to identify trends and breakpoints in emerging data were coupled with notes from the time. For each time period, we then captured the WEF workshop to adjust or expand on our initial overall accumulation (high level) or release (low interpretations. Further detail on each of these level) of each capital to determine system potential. dimensions is included in the following section. High levels of capitals signalled high system potential. Within the time periods (identified from trends Mapping the evolution of the UEIP onto the in capital), we then assessed connectedness. Similar adaptive cycle to Nkhata et al. (2008), we conceptualised connect- We determined phases of change aligned to the adap- edness as the degree to which actors in water gov- tive cycle. Our goal was to define different phases in ernance in the uMngeni catchment are linked and the transformation process rather than to test the the strength of those links that mediate change. usefulness of the adaptive cycle concept. Using document analysis and our collective experi- The identification of different stages of change was ence in water resource management in the catch- first carried out by the research group at the WEF ment, we inferred the degree to which actors are workshop based on local knowledge and experience. linked based on the diversity and strength of rela- Three initial stages were defined for the uMngeni tionships between them. This was partly informed water governance system namely 1) start-up, 2) take- by the water resource management approach off, and 3) stagnation. Following the workshop, these reported in the literature, with a reductionist were refined based on an approximate analysis of approach reflecting a lower diversity of actors system potential and connectedness. This analysis involved in water resource management. We then relied on a combination of documentary evidence, used the levels of system potential and connected- data, and local knowledge and followed an iterative ness expressed during different time periods to map process. Although our analysis was underpinned by the evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle a considerable amount of data, it still retained (Holling 2001; Gunderson and Holling 2002). a certain degree of subjectivity, particularly in deter- mining the diversity of actors and their level of inter- Analysis of learning, power, agency and structure action, which impacted both the identification of the To analyse learning, power, agency and structure phases and the assessment of structure. To minimise within each phase of the adaptive cycle, we developed the impact of subjectivity, we used peer debriefing, in a set of qualitative indicators that capture different which the results were reviewed for potential errors facets of each of these four processes. and biases by other team members not involved in In respect of learning, and similar to Johannessen the analysis but who have an understanding of the et al. (2018), we identified examples linked to the three catchment and the UEIP. types of learning loops. For single-loop learning, we To assess potential, we followed other scholars in identified where past patterns of behaviours were re- exploring the accumulation or release of different enacted, such as where strategies or actions, under- types of capitals (see for example Abel et al. 2006; pinned by accepted values and norms, remained Daedlow et al. 2011; Salvia and Quaranta 2015). We unchanged. For double-loop learning, we highlight ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 7 Table 1. Criteria, linked to capitals, used to determine system potential. Capital Criterion Justification Application in our study Social capital Trust and commitment Trust and commitment regarded as two key attributes of Assessed at catchment & relational capital and suggested as a proxy for organisational level. potential by other scholars (Nkhata et al. 2008; ● Catchment: trust in local gov- Tadesse and Kassie 2017). ernment used as proxy of trust in other tiers of government. ● Organisational: inferred level of ‘trust and commitment’ in UEIP Natural capital Extent of remaining Ecosystems in good condition have higher potential to Change in current and historic natural ecosystems deliver ecosystem services (Grizzetti et al. 2019). natural land cover categories. Quality of water in river Escherichia coli (E-coli) counts systems in the used as indicator of drinking catchment water quality. Financial capital Capital and reserves Loss or accumulation of financial capital (or access to Assessed at a catchment & available for water money) used by other scholars to define phases of the organisational level. resource adaptive cycle (see for example Abel et al. 2006). ● Catchment: Changes in gross management profit margin of Umgeni Water. ● Organisational: Level of resources allocated to the UEIP and its activities. goals, strategies or perspectives that were altered or embeddedness to mitigate structural impediments or reframed in a novel and different way in response to to promote specific interests, agency translates into a new understanding, and for triple-loop learning, we the capacity to act (Bandura 2001). This definition note structural changes in management and govern- aligns with Ling and Dale (2013), who note that for ment processes linked to other learning-loops. agency to manifest, an individual must be sufficiently We assess four different types of power: control, connected to other individuals in their community or protean, ideational and agential. Our analysis of con- to hierarchies of power, and must also have the trol power focuses on its institutional dimension. As intent, time, skills and self-efficacy to see problems suggested by Stahl (2011), we consider the implied and identify solutions. To reflect on agency, we con- power associated with institutional status. We base sidered the competence, skills and knowledge of key this assessment on the power of organisations in the actors involved in the evolution of the UEIP as uMngeni catchment determined through power map- a measure of ‘ability’ (Alkire 2008). However, we ping (undertaken by Rowlands et al. 2013) and local acknowledge that this indicator is incomplete as it knowledge. To reflect on protean power, we identify does not capture ‘intent’. To assess strategic agency, situations where innovation emerges in relation to we identify instances where groups of actors define uncertainty and risk. We use dominant discourses shared values and interests and agree on a path to (captured in policy and strategy documents) to serve their interests. In addition, we note strategic explore the presence of three types of ideational actions taken by these groups, or individuals within power: power through ideas (or the ‘capacity of actors the group, to achieve the transformation, such as to persuade other actors to accept and adopt their leveraging support or mobilizing resources (see views of what to think and do through the use of Dorado 2005; Westley et al. 2013). ideational elements’); power over ideas (or ‘the capa- We explore institutional structure through the pre- city of actors to control and dominate the meaning of sence of three different governance styles, which ideas’; and power in ideas (or ‘the authority of certain reflect different rules, values and logics (Keast et al. ideas in structuring thought at the expense of other 2006; Pahl-Wostl 2019), namely (1) hierarchical gov- ideas’) (Carstensen and Schmidt 2016; Meissner and ernance that embodies control and regulation by the Warner 2021). We reflect on agential power as fol- State; (2) network governance that is characterised by lows: whereas the other forms of power highlight collaboration between independent actors within either the actor or the structure, agential power a self-constructed structure (den Ouden 2015); and simultaneously reflects on actors and structures and (3) hybrid governance formations that mediate give both equal weighting. In other words, we identify between hierarchical and network governance styles examples when agents utilised structures, particularly (Stuart-Hill et al. 2020). We further consider the their position in the network, to promote certain development of policy instruments which mirror interests or bring about change. these different styles. To assess relational structure, We draw a distinction between agential power and we reflect on heterogeneity: the diversity of actors agency, although acknowledge that the two are inter- involved in the process during different stages of twined. While agential power relates to the capacity the transformative process (Sandström and Rova to embed into a network and to use that 2010). 8 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Results these periods, we also identified changes in system connectedness. We investigated the social processes underlying the The first period occurred between 2000 and 2009 transformation of water governance in the uMngeni and was characterised by fluctuating levels of trust catchment in two steps: 1) we mapped the evolution in local government signalling variable levels of of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle, and 2) we social capital. We identified high levels of financial explored the processes of learning, power, agency, capital as financial resources were accumulated by and structure in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Umgeni Water. Although natural areas were rapidly transformed and water quality deteriorated, natural capital remained higher than at any other time Mapping the evolution of the UEIP onto the during the transformation. Relatively high levels of adaptive cycle all three capitals suggest that system potential was In this section, we describe the phases of the adaptive high. During this period, water resource manage- cycle identified during the evolution of the UEIP over ment was controlled by a few actors (from DWS, the period 2000 to 2018/2019. We present changes in Umgeni Water and the Municipalities) with strong system potential and connectedness used to map the relationships formed through continuous interac- evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle. tion. Low diversity was also reflected in the reduc- A timeline of significant events and milestones, tionist approach to water resource management. (aligned to the phases of the adaptive cycle) during This low diversity coupled with strong interactions the evolution of the UEIP is included in Appendix D. indicates a highly connected and vulnerable system. The second period commenced in 2009, as trust in local government began to plummet. By 2012 it Trajectories in system potential and connectedness had reached its lowest level since 1998. Service We identified five trends in capitals in the uMngeni delivery protests erupted in the catchment and water governance system between 2000 and 2019. These across the country and social capital declined. trends suggest alternating periods of accumulation and Natural capital also declined as water quality dete- release of capitals, with corresponding changes in sys- riorated further and more natural areas were tem potential (Table 2 and Appendix C). Within Table 2. Criteria used to reflect on trends in the accumulation or release of social, natural, and financial capitals. Time period Social Natural Financial Pre-2009 Fluctuating levels of social capital, with Declining natural capital, with the extent Accumulating financial capital, as trust in local government close to of natural land cover in the upper Umgeni Water’s capital and reserves doubling between 2001 and 2004 catchment decreasing from 53.62% in grew by 61% between 2005 and 2009 whereafter it declined rapidly to almost 2000 to 45.90% in 2008 (Appendix 5. (UW 2010) (Appendix 5. Figure 4.2). 30% but increased again around 2007 Figure 4.3) and water quality (Appendix 5. Figure 4.1). deteriorating in some parts of the catchment, with a 5% increase in the number of sites with results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL (Appendix 5. Figure 4.4). Despite this deterioration, natural capital in this phase was in its best state relative to other times in the transformation. 2009 – July 2012 Declining social capital, as trust in local Declining natural capital, with continued Releases in financial capital, as government began to erode around loss of natural areas (from 45.9% to significant funds spent on chemicals 2009 and service delivery protests 42.23%) (Appendix 5. Figure 5.3) and to clean the highly polluted water erupted in the catchment and across further deterioration in water quality in (UW 2013), resulting in Umgeni the country. By July 2012, trust in local parts of the catchment, with almost Water’s gross profit margin ratio government had reached its lowest a 10% increase in the number of sites tumbling from 63% in 2009 to 54% in level since 1998 (Appendix 4. with results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL 2012 (UW 2013) (Appendix 5. Figure 4.1). (Appendix 5. Figure 4.4). Figure 4.2). September 2012 Increasing social capital, as actors Declining natural capital, with a 5% Accumulation of financial capital, as – October 2013 mobilize around the concept of increase in the number of sites with finances committed to training and ecological infrastructure and commit to results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL the implementation of pilot projects the concept of the uMngeni Ecological (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). to demonstrate the benefits of Infrastructure Partnership. ecological infrastructure November 2013 Increasing social capital, as the launch of Declining natural capital, with a 5% Release of financial capital by various – May 2015? the UEIP is attended by numerous increase in the number of sites with actors including SANBI, to facilitate actors and the 16 founding partners results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL the start-up of the UEIP. sign the MoU. Trust and commitment (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). continue to increase as regular meetings of the UEIP are held. 2015 (?) − 2019 Declining social capital, as commitment to Declining natural capital, with a 5% Declining financial capital, as the UEIP the UEIP wanes (with DWS, eThekwini, increase in the number of sites with struggles to adopt a self-funding Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL model. municipalities notably absent as (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). signatories in the resigning of the Memorandum of Understanding). ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 9 transformed. Financial resources were released by period was also characterised by continued deteriora- Umgeni Water to counteract water quality chal- tion of natural capital and declining financial capital, lenges. The decline in all three capitals leads to the as the UEIP struggled to adopt a self-funding model. conclusion that system potential was low. The decline in all three capitals leads to the conclu- Connectedness was categorised as high as the con- sion that system potential was low, which some actors trol exerted by a few tightly connected actors con- worry may limit the Partnership’s capacity to capita- tinued from the previous period. However, this lize on future opportunities for transformation control was weakened by the protests which per- towards desired goals. Reduced actor diversity, mitted the entry of new actors (including SANBI coupled with strong relationships (formed through and the Environmental Planning and Climate enduring patterns of interaction) of those who Protection Department (EPCPD) at eThekwini remained, resulted in an increasingly connected Municipality) and the formation of new relation- system. ships and interactions. The third period took place between 2012 and Connecting changes in system potential and 2013. In September 2012, the first steps were taken connectedness to adaptive cycle phases to mobilize actors around the concept of ecological Based on changes in system potential and connected- infrastructure. Numerous actors committed to the ness, we mapped the evolution of the UEIP onto the concept of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure adaptive cycle (Table 3). We summarise these results Partnership which signalled increasing social capi- as follows: tal. Financial capital was accumulated as actors Pre-2009: High potential coupled with high con- committed funds to the Partnership. Despite nectedness suggests that the system was in declining natural capital, the accumulation of a Conservation phase. social and economic capital suggests that system 2009 – July 2012: Low potential and high con- potential was high. A systems approach to water nectedness indicate that the system was in management emerged and new actors were invited a Release phase. to participate in water resource management ● September 2012 – October 2013: High potential (including non-profit organisations, civil society together with low connectedness denote groups, and academia). Although their participa- a Reorganisation phase. tion increased actor diversity, the strength of rela- ● November 2013 – May 2015: Low system con- tionships between actors was relatively weak as nectedness coupled with low potential suggests many actors had not previously interacted with an Exploitation phase. one another. Connectedness therefore began to 2015 (?) − 2019: Although system potential is in decrease. this phase is low, we determined that this period The fourth period started around most likely corresponds with a second conserva- November 2013, when the UEIP was launched at tion phase. an event held in Durban. The attendance of the event by numerous actors and the signing of the The role of learning, power, agency, and structure MoU by the 16 founding partners suggests that in the different phases of transformation trust and commitment to the UEIP was high. Trust and commitment continued to increase as regular In the second part of the analysis, we identified dis- meetings commenced. Financial resources were tinct shifts in learning loops, power relations, agency, released to facilitate the start-up of the Partnership and structure during different phases of the transfor- with a full-time co-ordinator appointed in mation (Table 4). Evidence of these changes is May 2015. Although social capital was high, the included in Appendix F. In the following section, release of financial resources coupled with poor nat- we discuss these changes and the connections and ural capital was interpreted as reduced system interplay between them. These dynamics highlight potential. During this period, connectedness was the non-linear nature of the transformation and are low as the relationships between the diverse array illustrated in Figure 3. of actors were still in their early stages. We identified the final period between 2015 and Conservation phase (first) 2019. However, it was difficult to determine the tran- We found that the conservation phase was charac- sition point between this and the previous period. terised by strong institutional structure evident in the During this time, social capital declined as commit- hierarchical mode of governance. For example, in line ment to the UEIP waned (with DWS, eThekwini, with South Africa’s 1996 Constitution (RSA 1996), spe- Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu municipalities nota- cific organs of State including DWS, and provincial and bly absent as signatories at the resigning of the local government departments, were mandated to Memorandum of Understanding in May 2020). This develop legislative and other measures to achieve the 10 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Table 3. Summary of the assessment of social, financial, and natural capital, and their links to potential and connectedness, used to map the evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle. Capitals Phases of the Time periods Social Financial Natural Potential Connectedness adaptive cycle ● ● ● Pre-2009 Variable levels of trust in Accumulation of financial capital as capital and Natural capital in good state (relative to High High Conservation st ● ● local government reserves increase at Umgeni Water other times in the transformation) High trust Low actor diversity with reg- (1 ) Stored financial ular interaction capital Reductionist approach to High natural management capital ● ● ● 2009 – July 2012 Declining trust in local Release of financial capital and shift towards Declining state of natural capital Low High Release government financial threshold at Umgeni Water Low actor diversity with reg- Low trust ular interaction Released financial Reductionist approach to capital management Declining natural capital ● ● ● September 2012 – Increasing commitment Accumulation of financial capital as funds from Declining state of natural capital High Low Reorganisation October 2013 to UEIP various actors committed to UEIP Increasing Increasing actor diversity commitment with limited interaction Increasing finan- Systemic approach to man- cial capital agement adopted Declining natural capital ● ● November 2013 – Increasing commitment Release of financial capital from various actors Declining state of natural capital Low Low Exploitation May 2015? to UEIP including SANBI for start-up of UEIP ● ● Increasing Increasing actor diversity commitment with limited interaction ● ● Released financial Systemic approach to man- capital. agement implemented Declining natural capital ● ● ● 2015 (?) − 2019 Decreasing commitment UEIP struggles to accumulate financial capital Declining state of natural capital Low High Conservation nd to UEIP (2 ) ● ● Decreasing Lower actor diversity with commitment regular interaction ● ● Limited stored Limited implementation of financial capital systemic approach Declining natural capital ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 11 Table 4. Summary of the dimensions of learning, power, agency, and structure identified in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Phase of adaptive cycle Learning Power Agency Structure st Conservation (1 ) ● Single-loop learning ● Strong institutional ● Limited individual agency ● Strong institutional power structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power Release ● Double-loop learning by key ● Weakening institutional ● Increasing individual agency ● Strong institutional individuals power structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power ● Emergence of protean power Reorganisation ● Double-loop learning by col- ● Weakening institutional ● Strategic agency ● Strong institutional lectives power structure ● Power through ideas ● Increasing relational ● Increasing agential structure power Exploitation ● Triple-loop learning ● Changing institutional ● Strategic agency ● Changing institutional power structure ● Power through ideas ● Increasing relational ● Increasing agential structure power nd Conservation (2 ) ● Single-loop learning ● Strong institutional ● Limited strategic and indivi- ● Strong institutional power dual agency structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power realisation of the right of access to basic water supply the system for self-organisation and the prevalent struc- (Cameron 2014; SAHRC 2018) with few other actors ture of domination was maintained. involved in water management. We noted that this strong institutional structure (α2) reinforced institu- Release phase tional power (α1). For example, DWS, Umgeni Water We noted that the release phase was triggered by and eThekwini Municipality were identified as some of a movement of country-wide social protests, referred the most powerful organisations in the catchment at to by Alexander (2010) as the rebellion of the poor. this time, and controlled the distribution of water The established institutions and dominant discourses resources. The views of these dominant government were seen to have failed in meeting service delivery organisations to development processes, such as the expectations, resulting in declining control power application of engineering solutions to achieve the (K2). For example, the Water Reconciliation right to water, were deeply entrenched and alternative Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal discourses were largely excluded (Meissner and Turton Metropolitan Area (DWA 2009) showed that engi- 2003). This ‘power over ideas’(α3) is reflected in various neering solutions alone were unlikely to meet the policies and strategies such as the National Water growing demand for water. The social discontent at Conservation and Water Demand Management a national scale, coupled with water supply and Strategy (DWAF 2004) which focused almost entirely quality challenges in the catchment, was used to on engineering options. These documents highlight create a crisis narrative which was purported to single-loop learning in the form of improving existing require an organisational structure to correct. This practices (α6). For example, Umgeni Water continued led key actors in eThekwini Metropolitan plans to build new dams and implement water manage- Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Unit (EWS) ment programmes (UW 2007). Single-loop learning and Environmental Planning and Climate was reinforced by the lack of involvement of other Protection Department (EPCPD) to question con- actors (expressed as low relational structure (α4)). ventional approaches to water management, signal- This limited the diversity of views and prevented access ling double-loop learning (K1). These actors began to new information and experiences. Strong institu- to reframe existing assumptions (that engineering tional structure also limited agency (α7) and agential solutions were the only option) which facilitated power (α5) and together with single-loop learning and changes in underlying mental models. The changing the lack of new ideas, reinforced ideational power as context also permitted the introduction of the novel power-over ideas and the notion that engineering solu- idea of restoring and maintaining ecosystems or tions were the only available solution. Initially, there ‘ecological infrastructure’ to address water quantity was acceptance of the dominant institutions and dis- and quality concerns (Zunckel 2013; Hordijk et al. courses. Together, these factors reduced the capacity of 2014; Sutherland and Roberts 2014; Manual et al. 12 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. K2: Weakening α1: Strong institutional institutional power power Strong α2: Strong α3: Ideational Ideational institutional institutional power (power power (power structure structure over ideas) over ideas) Limited α4: Low α5: Limited Low relational agential relational agential structure power K4: structure power Protean α6: Single- K1 Double- Power loop learning loop learning α7: Limited K3: Increasing individual individual agency agency Release (K) Conservation (α) Weakening Ω4: Changing institutional institutional power power Strong R5: Ideational Ω3: Ideational Ω5: Changing institutional power (power power (power institutional structure through ideas) through ideas) structure R1: Increasing Increasing Increasing R2: Increasing agential agential relational relational power power structure structure R4: Collective Ω1: Triple- double-loop loop learning learning Ω2: Strategic R3: Strategic agency agency Exploitation (Ω) Reorganisation (R) Figure 3. The interaction of different dimensions of learning, power, agency, and structure in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Red text indicates critical processes; the hatched background denotes changing contexts. 2016; Gale 2020). This solution was offered by (Rowlands et al. 2013). They were also highly influential SANBI, an influential actor who was based outside and connected into national and global networks. Thus, of the uMngeni water management system pre-2009. these actors occupied strategic positions in the network The interaction of weakening control power and the and utilised these structures to promote the concept of changing context gave rise to protean power (K4), as ecological infrastructure. These actors also used their key actors at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality agential power to mobilise other actors and in so doing began to respond to the uncertain context and seek altered the relational structure (R2). The change in innovative solutions. Double-loop learning coupled structure was particularly evident in the formation of with emerging protean power contributed to the an informal actor group, which included the four initial release of the system from the conservation phase. partners (eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, SANBI, KwaZulu-Natal DWS and Umgeni Water) and was later expanded to include World Wildlife Reorganisation phase Fund South Africa (WWF-SA), the Duzi uMngeni During the re-organisation phase, those actors with Conservation Trust (DUCT), uMgungundlovu protean power also held agential power (R1). Agential District Municipality (UMDM), Msunduzi power can be seen in the ability of key actors to utilise Municipality and the Wildlife and Environment structures to promote certain interests. In the uMngeni Society (WESSA). The informal actor group displayed catchment, the key actors who held agential power were collective double-loop learning (R4) which was evident both top-level managers with formal levels of authority in their mobilization around the central idea of ecolo- at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, one of the gical infrastructure and the co-design of pilot projects most powerful organisations in the catchment ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 13 to showcase the benefits of ecosystem restoration. deteriorating water quality and water security chal- Importantly, the emergence, actions and learning of lenges in the uMngeni catchment (which shaped the the informal actor group enabled a shift towards stra- context) continued (see, for example, Sutherland et al. tegic agency (R3). Strategic agency is a critical ingredi- 2019). This phase exhibited similar dynamics to that ent for re-organisation of the system. As actors worked of the conservation phase in the first iteration of the together to secure resources and support for the ecolo- cycle. Although the institutional structure had shifted gical infrastructure concept, they persuaded others to to a more hybrid mode of governance, the UEIP as accept these new ideas and shifted ideational power a structure within the broader system, encountered from power-over ideas to power-through ideas (R5). several challenges (α2). By May 2020, the number of As a result, the UEIP, which was better able to accom- individuals attending the UEIP meetings had modate these new ideas, began to emerge. declined substantially, signalling a decrease in rela- tional structure across the system (α4). This signifi- cantly constrained strategic agency (α2) as several of Exploitation phase the most powerful organisations in the catchment During the exploitation phase, ‘power through ideas’ (including DWS, eThekwini, Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu municipalities) were notably absent (Ω3) influenced institutional power (Ω4) as multiple ideas were able to co-exist. This in turn influenced as signatories in the re-signing of the MoU in 2020. institutional structure (Ω5), as hybrid governance The reasons for not re-signing remain unclear, formations were enabled. This was evident in the although it may be that they were no longer inter- official launch of the UEIP in Durban in ested in going forward with the collaboration, or in November 2013. However, the informal actor group eThekwini’s case, that they possibly decided to pursue held power in deciding who could participate in the their own investments in ecological infrastructure. process, as well as influencing the discourse, direction Nonetheless, the lack of involvement of these power- and functioning of the UEIP, while SANBI held ful actors likely contributed to the stalling of colla- power in controlling the appointment of the new borative governance efforts. We also noted that learning (α2) was constrained. During this time, the UEIP co-ordinator. The UEIP provided a new struc- ture and space for collective learning. Through this experimental pilot projects were well underway and platform, a diverse array of actors were able to share provided examples of a learning-by-doing approach. However, we found that knowledge and experience their values and ideals, engage in the experimental pilot projects and critically reflect on their mental gained from these projects did not translate into models and worldviews. The UEIP itself can therefore changes in practices across the catchment more be categorised as an example of triple-loop learning broadly. There were also no major structural changes (Ω1). There were also signs of limited triple loop in rules and actor networks in the overall uMngeni learning beyond the system. For example, several system. For example, although the UEIP was consid- key actors (including representatives from SANBI) ered a leading voice in the development of the catch- worked hard to ensure that the UEIP featured as ment management strategy (which spans several a pilot project in the President’s Strategic Integrated catchments including the uMngeni), the concept of Project Plan (under Strategic Infrastructure Project ecological infrastructure did not actually feature in the document. It does, however, address broader #19 [SIP19]) (Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs 2014), aimed at fast tracking economic devel- catchment management issues as they relate to opment and growth, which was presented to Cabinet impacts on water resources. These examples provide evidence of single-loop learning, which likely in October 2014. Although ‘SIP19’ was later aban- doned, the concept of ecological infrastructure was enhanced ideational power (α3), and reinforced included in the second edition of the National Water both institutional power (α1) and structure, thereby Resource Strategy for South Africa (DWA 2013). This bringing stability to the system. collective effort also showcases the shared values and interests of the UEIP and provides an example of strategic agency. Although a full-time co-ordinator Discussion was appointed during this phase, her individual agency and power was constrained as she was new The aim of this study was to investigate the key social to the catchment with limited networks. She also processes that characterise transformative potential at played more of an administrative rather than different stages in the change process in order to a decision-making role. strengthen our analytical understanding of transfor- mation. We used the adaptive cycle to describe the Conservation phase (second) different phases of change, and then illuminated the The second conservation phase commenced around connections and feedbacks between different facets of mid-2015. During this phase, the crisis narrative of learning, power, agency, and structure over time. This 14 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. allowed us to identify the key dynamics that drive 2015; Leach et al. 2018; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. 2020). different phases of transformative change. We also found that an uncertain context was impor- tant for triggering the transformation. This reinforces a similar finding by other scholars (see, for example, Insights into the social dynamics of different Olsson et al. 2004; Westley et al. 2013; Chaffin et al. phases of change 2014; Johannessen et al. 2018). The importance of Our work adds to the existing body of work on context is possibly best expressed by Dorado (2005) transformation in two ways. Firstly, we highlight lin- who notes that institutional change is contingent on kages between social processes and their role in trans- the likelihood that a context will allow actors to both formation which are currently under-reported in the introduce novel ideas and enable the mobilization of literature (e.g. protean power), and secondly, we pro- resources to support them. Building on this work, vide a more holistic picture of the relationships and Westley et al. (2013) linked shifting contexts to phases of the adaptive cycle and noted how such feedbacks which surface at different times during the transformation process. changes permitted the introduction of new ideas dur- Our analysis revealed that the conservation phase ing the release phase. Our analysis revealed similar results, but also highlights how the changing context was characterised by strong control and institutional power as dominant actors sought to control the allowed for double-loop learning in which key actors environment to meet their own ends. This was rein- began to question whether they were doing the right forced through legislated mandates and institutional things, reframed existing assumptions and reviewed structures. Dominant actors exhibited control over their underlying mental models. Individuals also ideas (a form of ideational power) which reinforced questioned underlying rules, meanings and authority their control power. Strong institutional power also which led to weakened control power and instability enabled them to control who was involved in the of the system. This confirms observations in the decision-making process thereby limiting relational literature that a crisis or changing context, may trig- structure and agential power. This in turn prevented ger critical reflections and a change in understanding of perceived risks (Biggs et al. 2010; Olsson et al. the introduction of new ideas which further embedded single-loop learning. Single-loop learning 2010; Westley et al. 2013; Johannessen et al. 2018). coupled with limited individual agency reinforced Our findings agree with Legro (2000) who argues that a shift in ideas of individuals is one of the first steps ideational and control power. Acceptance of these structures and ideas brought stability to the system in changing ideational power. and prevented it from shifting to an alternatively We found that protean power was central to the configured state. This finding confirms work by release phase and emerged during a time of uncer- other scholars who have long argued that institu- tainty. Protean power arose as the agency of key tional structures and arrangements influence rela- actors increased in response to the altered context tional structure and control power by limiting who and they began to search for solutions to local pro- can meaningfully participate in debates, planning and blems. The new context coupled with weakened insti- decision-making processes (Fox 1976; Schafft and tutional power (a form of control power) permitted Brown 2003; Barnett and Duvall 2005). Less explored, the introduction of new ideas and solutions (in our case from outside of the system). We found that the however, are the connections between power and learning. In a study on the transformation of two implementation of these ideas and the effects of the urban centres in Mexico, Pelling and Manuel- actions (of those with protean power) on others and the system, were largely unpredictable. These findings Navarrete (2011) found that social learning was con- strained by dominant structures created for centraliz- again confirm the importance of context in transfor- ing power. Medema et al. (2014) and Johannessen mation but further flag its interplay with different et al. (2018) also argue that social learning is con- types of power. Similar findings have emerged else- strained by powerful structures and dynamics, while where in the literature. For example, Katzenstein and Mostert et al. (2007) noted that a balance of power Seybert (2018) argue that the fall of the Berlin wall was a pre-requisite for social learning. Our study adds was underpinned by a combination of failing diplo- matic and control power, and the actualization of to this work by providing a finer distinction between the types of power and learning that emerge at dif- protean power. They suggest that control power and ferent times in the transformation process. protean power often co-evolve and co-exist, and it is the confluence of these two types of power that Our results also surfaced the importance of cross- scale dynamics and context in the transformation. enables transformation. However, the importance of Similar to other scholars, we found that the crisis protean power in transformations generally, but in social-ecological transformations specifically, is occurred at a broad scale but triggered a transformative process at a local scale (Cash et al. under-explored in the literature, and should form 2006; Olsson et al. 2006, 2014; Beier et al. 2009; Tai a critical line of enquiry in the future. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 15 Our analysis showed that during the re- Our results point to limited structural change organisation phase, agents who held protean power facilitated by weakened control power and triple- also held agential power. This power was essential in loop learning, during the exploitation phase. The mobilising other actors in support of the innovation formation of the UEIP itself provides some evidence and resulted in the emergence of an informal actor of triple-loop learning. This finding supports claims group or shadow network. The formation of the by Johannessen et al. (2018) that the formation of shadow network in turn, shifted relational structure a governance structure that supports intersectoral and enabled strategic agency. Strategic agency is communication and cooperation between different important as it allows actors to define shared values actors can facilitate triple-loop learning and the trans- and decide on a particular course of action (Westley formation of water governance systems. They docu- et al. 2013). The formation of shadow networks ment how the establishment of shared learning during transformation has been recognized by sev- dialogues in Gorakhpur gradually changed the nature eral other scholars, although few have noted the role of relationships both within communities and exter- of power in the emergence of these networks (see, nal institutions, and also demonstrated how cross- for example, Olsson et al. 2006, 2014; Gelcich et al. sectoral dialogue in Kristianstad led to risk managers 2010; Westley et al. 2013; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. re-evaluating the value of wetlands. In the uMngeni, 2020). They highlight that shadow networks are however, we found no evidence of major structural critical in preparing a system for change by explor- changes in rules and actor networks in the overall ing alternative system configurations, providing catchment. This calls into question the extent of the novel ideas, and developing strategies for alternative transformation. We suggest that the ability to trans- futures. form the wider governance system was jeopardised by We found that during the reorganisation phase, single-loop learning, which was evident in a failure to the informal actor group worked strategically to per- translate the knowledge and experience gained suade others through cognitive and normative argu- through learning processes into changes in practices ments about the validity of their ideas. They more broadly across the catchment. employed a variety of strategies including the con- ception of pilot projects, which were used to draw in Reflections on the use of the adaptive cycle and different actors and unify them around the central the four social processes idea of ecological infrastructure. These findings con- cur with Westley et al. (2013) who noted that pilot or Although we found the adaptive cycle helpful for umbrella projects were used to create a bundle of identifying distinct phases of change, we encountered knowledge that were sufficiently open-ended to challenges in quantitatively assessing dimensions of attract a diversity of actors and allow them to work potential and connectedness. This was partly because collaboratively together. Our results further suggest social, economic and ecological capitals were concep- that the co-design of these pilot projects enabled tualised at different scales over the period of the collective double-loop learning, in which actors transformation. In addition, some criteria were diffi- began to re-evaluate their initial assumptions. cult to quantify and relied on a thorough understand- Similar examples of double-loop learning have been ing of the case study. Other scholars also reported reported in other collaborative contexts. For example, difficulties in assessing the properties of potential and Johannessen et al. (2018) found that a collaboration connectedness (see Abel et al. 2006; Daedlow et al. between individuals from the Kristianstad municipal- 2011; Salvia and Quaranta 2015) and noted that the ity and other local and national actors, led to changes assessment could be skewed depending on who was in both perceptions and measures about floodlines. involved in the process. Importantly, in our case study, the uptake of these We found the multi-faceted processes of learning, ideas resulted in a gradual shift in ideational power, power, agency and structure helpful for elucidating from ‘power over ideas’ to ‘power through ideas’ the dynamics of change, thereby enhancing our ana- which in turn affected control power. As the system lytical understanding of the broader transformation reorganised, new organisations began to emerge. This puzzle. In summary, we found that power shifted finding supports Legro (2000) who reasons that idea- from ‘power over ideas’ in the conservation and tional change is a two-step process that involves release phases, to ‘power through ideas’ in the reor- collapse and consolidation. Collapse occurs when ganisation and exploitation phases. Protean power actors reach agreement that old beliefs are inadequate also emerged as a key ingredient for change during while consolidation requires social coordination on the exploitation phase. We identified similar shifts in a replacement set of ideas (Legro 2000). Both steps learning and agency. The conservation phase was involve collective ideation problems, which we found characterised by single-loop learning which shifted were solved through strategic agency of the informal to double-loop learning initially by individuals in actor group. the release phase, and then by collectives in the 16 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. reorganisation phase, while triple-loop learning sur- linkages and feedbacks may lock a system into faced in the exploitation phase. Linked to learning, an undesirable state. we found that individual agency was limited during (2) A political, social, or environmental shock may the conservation phase but increased during the trigger a shift from the conservation to the release phase and shifted to strategic agency in the release phase. This change in context weakens reorganisation and exploitation phases. These control power, permits the introduction of new changes were influenced by, and facilitated, changes ideas, and sparks double-loop learning as key in relational and institutional structures. During the actors start to question their underlying conservation phase, there was strong institutional but assumptions. Importantly, the changing condi- low relational structure while during the exploitation tions create uncertainty which gives rise to pro- phase a more hybrid mode of governance was tean power – a critical ingredient for change. enabled, and relational structure increased. (3) The emergence of protean power enhances These results confirm work by other scholars on the agential power of key actors, who begin to relationships between some social processes, for example mobilise other actors and resources in a rapid between power and learning (see, for example, Pelling phase of reorganisation. In so doing, they alter and Manuel-Navarrete 2011; Medema et al. 2014; relational structure and enable strategic agency Johannessen et al. 2018) and between structure and through the creation of an informal actor power (see, for example, Fox 1976; Schafft and Brown group. Together, these actors engage in collec- 2003; Barnett and Duvall 2005). Our results also contri- tive double-loop learning resulting in bute to the structure-agency debate and lend support to a gradual shift in ideational power from Giddens (1984) theory of the duality of structure where ‘power over ideas’ to ‘power through ideas’. individuals are simultaneously constrained and empow- (4) The exploitation phase is characterised by tri- ered by existing social structure. We also concur with ple-loop learning that involves shifts in under- Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete (2011) who suggest that lying norms and values. Triple-loop learning power is the outcome of the interaction between indivi- may be enabled through the formation of new dual agency and structure. However, our results indicate collaborative institutions that are better able to that while this power is associated with agential power, accommodate innovative ideas and provide other forms of power may simultaneously exist with trusted platforms that encourage participation, varying effects on the transformation process. In line integration, and learning. However, structural with other scholars, we also surfaced how different changes to the broader system may be con- types of social processes contribute to transformation, strained by failure to translate knowledge such as the importance of triple-loop learning (see, for gained through learning processes into example, Johannessen et al. 2018) and the role of protean changes in practice more widely. power (see, for example, Katzenstein and Seybert 2018). We contend that the emergence of different types of learning, power, agency and structure, such as those identified in this article, are essential for transformation. Conclusion This understanding may help to inform actions that steer transformations away from less desired trajectories and Our study strengthens our analytical understanding of lock-in’s, towards more sustainable and collaborative transformation and highlights the social processes water governance in South Africa and elsewhere. underlying the change process. We used the adaptive cycle to define phases of change and then identified how learning, power, agency, and structure vary and Note influence the different phases of transformation. Our 1. Umgeni Water financial data was only available from 2003. findings suggest that the shift in water governance in the uMngeni catchment to a new configuration of colla- boration, represents a transformation. In summary, we Acknowledgment found the following in our case study, which we think We wish to acknowledge the Human Sciences Research may hold in other contexts: Council and Umgeni Water for the use of data referred to in this article. We are also grateful to the reviewers for (1) During the conservation phase of the adaptive providing constructive comments on the earlier draft of the cycle, strong control power and institutional manuscript. structure often limit relational structure and the introduction of new ideas, which reinforces Disclosure statement single-loop learning. Acceptance of these struc- tures and ideas brings stability to the system Nadia Sitas is an Editorial Board Member for Ecosystems and prevents it from shifting to an alternatively and People but was blinded from the peer-review process configured state. In some instances, these for this paper. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 17 Carstensen MB, Schmidt VA. 2016. Power through, over Funding and in ideas: conceptualizing ideational power in dis- C.P. and R.B. received support from the South African cursive institutionalism. J Eur Public Policy. 23 Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the Department of (3):318–337. doi:10.1080/13501763.2015.1115534. Science and Technology and National Research Foundation Cash DW, Adger WN, Berkes F, Garden P, Lebel L, of South Africa (grant 98766). C.P. also received support from Olsson P, Pritchard L, Young O. 2006. Scale and the Lloyds Register Foundation via the International Water cross-scale dynamics: governance and information in Security Project. a multilevel world. Ecol Soc. 11(2):8. http://www.ecolo gyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art8/ Chaffin B, Gosnell H, Cosens B. 2014. A decade of adaptive ORCID governance scholarship: synthesis and future directions. Ecol Soc. 19(3):56. doi:10.5751/ES-06824-190356. Reinette Biggs http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0300-4149 Costanza R, Daly HE. 1992. Natural capital and sustainable development. Conserv Biol. 6(1):37–46. doi:10.1046/j. 1523-1739.1992.610037.x. Costanza R, d’Arge R, de Groot RS, Farber S, Grasso M, References Hannon B, Limburg K, Naeem S, O’Neill RV, Paruelo J, et al. 1997. 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Description of key organisations who have participated in the UEIP Actor name Acronym Description South African National SANBI The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is an organisation established in terms Biodiversity Institute of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, No 10 of 2004, under the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. SANBI is tasked with research and dissemination of information on biodiversity and is legally mandated to contribute to the management of South Africa’s biodiversity resources. Although SANBI has its headquarters in Pretoria, it still has a strong influence on ecological infrastructure in the uMngeni catchment. eThekwini Metropolitan - eThekwini Municipality is a metropolitan municipality that is responsible for all local services, Municipality development and delivery in the metropolitan area of eThekwini. eThekwini is one of 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal, and includes the city of Durban and surrounding areas. eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is by far the largest water user in the uMngeni catchment. It also has a very active Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) and Water and Sanitation Unit. Department of Water and DWS The Department of Water and Sanitation is a national department and the custodian of South Sanitation Africa’s water resources. It is primarily responsible for the formulation and implementation of policy governing the water sector. KwaZulu-Natal Department of KZN DWS Many of the policies and regulations of the National DWS are implemented through its 9 Water and Sanitation regional offices, including the regional office in KwaZulu-Natal. The KwaZulu-Natal DWS office is responsible for developments, projects and programmes within the Pongola to uMzimkulu Water Management Area. Umgeni Water - Umgeni Water is a state-owned entity and provides water services (bulk potable/drinking water and sanitation services) to water services authorities (municipalities) in KwaZulu-Natal. These include eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Msunduzi Local Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality, amongst others. Wildlife and Environment Society WESSA WESSA is a non-governmental environmental organisation in South Africa which focuses on of South Africa environmental education and capacity building. The organisation has been active in the uMngeni catchment for a long time and has engaged in various projects that support environmental sustainability and ecosystem integrity. uMgungundlovu District UMDM uMgungundlovu is one of 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal and incorporates 7 local municipalities Municipality including Msunduzi. The purpose of the District Municipalities is to share the responsibility for all local services, development and delivery with local municipalities in their district, to ensure that all communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, have equal access to resources and services. The uMngeni River and its tributaries flow through almost all the Local Municipalities within the UMDM. Msunduzi Local Municipality - Msunduzi Local Municipality is one of 43 local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and encompasses the city of Pietermaritzburg, the capital city of KwaZulu Natal and the economic hub of the uMgungundlovu District. The Msunduzi Local Municipality shares the responsibility for all local services, development and delivery with the uMgungundlovu District Municipality. However, Msunduzi Local Municipality often functions quite independently largely because of its substantial annual budget (which is four times higher than the District’s) and large revenue streams which it generates through rates and the sale of electricity. World Wildlife Fund – South WWF-SA The World Wildlife Fund – South Africa is one of the largest independent conservation and Africa environment organisations in South Africa. Within the uMngeni catchment, the organisation plays an active role in funding various projects that support ecological infrastructure. Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust DUCT DUCT is a non-profit public benefit organisation based in Pietermaritzburg that champions the health of the uMngeni and Msunduzi Rivers. Appendix B. Documents consulted during the analysis A2.1. UEIP Documents Document Name Date Water security and service delivery through investments in natural infrastructure 27 September 2012 in the greater uMngeni catchment: Concept Note The Greater uMngeni Water Security Partnership (a discussion document to provide SANBI and eThekwini EPCPD with a basis 30 November 2012 upon which to plan for and arrange a key stakeholder workshop on the above scheduled for the end of February 2013). Joint Media Release, 28 February 2013, New solutions explored for water security and service delivery investments in ecological 28 February 2013 infrastructure in the greater uMngeni catchment. Minutes of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting 29 April 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting, Minute Summary 29 April 2013 Minutes of the 2nd uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting 5 August 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, The 2nd Partners Workshop − 10 October 2013, Invitation letter. August 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership Workshop, Proceedings of the 2nd UEIP Stakeholder Workshop held on 10 October 2013 10 October 2013 at KZN-Wildlife Head Office, Queen Elizabeth Park. The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Memorandum of Understanding, V3 18 November 2013 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Progress Report, November 2013 – March 2014 March 2014 UEIP List of signatories: Annexure A: Contact details and information exchange June 2014 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 19 November 2014 Terms of Reference, Research Sub-Committee of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), V4 19 November 2014 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership summary, 2015 n.d. The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 15 April 2015 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), An Overview of Progress, September 2015 September 2015 (Continued ) 22 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. (Continued). Document Name Date Proceedings from the National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) and the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Programme 1 October 2015 (UEIP): Investment in Ecological Infrastructure – the relevance for business, South African Sugar Association The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), A strategy July 2016 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 15 November 2016 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), presentation given by Dr Pearl Gola (co-ordinator of the UEIP) at the 17 March 2017 KZN Biodiversity and Business Indaba The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Annual Progress Report 2016– 2017 May 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 19 May 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 14 November 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 5 June 2018 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 23 May 2019 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 11 November 2019 A2.2. Documents obtained from Google Scholar search Chu, E., I. Anguelovski, and D. Roberts. 2017. Climate adaptation as strategic urbanism: assessing opportunities and uncertainties for equity and inclusive development in cities. Cities 60: 378–87. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2016.10.016 Cobinnah, P. B., and M. Addaney, eds. 2019. The geography of climate change adaptation in urban Africa. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Culwick, C. 2019. Introduction and overview. In Towards applying a green infrastructure approach in the Gauteng City- Region, ed. C. Culwick, and S. Khanyile. Johannesburg: Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO). Douwes, J. 2018. Exploring transformation in local government in a time of environmental change and thresholds: a case study of eThekwini Municipality. MSocSci thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College campus. Gale, M. 2020. Water governance in South Africa: capacity development in river basin management. Master’s thesis. Utrecht University, Netherlands. Hordijk, M., L. M. Sara, and C. Sutherland. 2014. Resilience, transition or transformation? A comparative analysis of changing water governance systems in four southern cities. Environment and Urbanization 26(1): 1–17. doi: 10.1177/0956247813519044. Hughes, C.J. 2018. Degradation of ecological infrastructure and its rehabilitation for improved water security. PhD thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. Hulme, D., M. Roy, M. Hordijk, and S. Cawood. 2016. Conclusion: reconceptualising adaptation and comparing experi- ences. In Urban poverty and climate change: life in the slums of Asia, Africa and Latin America, ed. M. Roy, S. Cawood, M. Hordijk, and D. Hulme. 257–265. London, UK: Routledge. Jewitt, G.P.W., C. Sutherland, M. Browne, S. Stuart-Hill, S. Risko, P. Martel, J. Taylor, and M. Varghese. 2020. Enhancing water security through restoration and maintenance of ecological infrastructure: lessons from the uMngeni River Catchment, South Africa. Report TT 815/20, Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Manuel, J., K. Maze, M. Driver, A. Stephens, E. Botts, A. Parker, M. Tau, J. Dini, S. Holness, and J. Nel. 2016. Key ingredients, challenges and lessons from biodiversity mainstreaming in South Africa: people, products, process. OECD Environment Working Papers no. 107, OECD Environment Directorate, Paris.doi.org/10.1787/5jlzgj1s4h5h-en Meissner, R. 2021. eThekwini’s green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape: towards a deeper understanding. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute). 2020. Biodiversity mainstreaming and policy advice assessment: an initial assessment of SANBI’s biodiversity mainstreaming history towards an evaluation of its achievements, effectiveness and lessons learnt. The living catchment’s project (2019–2023). Report for Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Sutherland, C., G. Jewitt, S. Risko, P. Martel, M. Varghese, S. Stuart-Hill, D. Hay, M. Brown, J. Taylor, C. Buckley, et al. 2019. Demonstration of how healthy ecological infrastructure can be utilized to secure water for the benefit of society and the green economy through a programmatic research approach based on selected landscapes. Report on Project K5/2354, Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Sutherland, C., and B. Mazeka. 2019. Ecosystem services in South Africa. In The Geography of South Africa: contemporary changes and new directions, ed. J. Knight, and C. Rogerson, 71–80. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Sutherland, C., B. Mazeka, S. Buthelezi, D. Khumalo, and P. Martel. 2019. Making informal settlements ‘visible’ through datafication: a case study of Quarry Road West Informal Settlement, Durban, South Africa. Paper no. 83, Centre for Development Informatics, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK. Swilling, M., J.K. Musango, and J. Wakeford, eds. 2016. Greening the South African economy: scoping the issues, challenges and opportunities. Cape Town: UCT Press. Vogel, C., D. Scott, C. E. Culwick, and C. Sutherland. 2016. Environmental problem-solving in South Africa: harnessing creative imaginaries to address ‘wicked’ challenges and opportunities. South African Geographical Journal 98(3): 515–530. doi:10.1080/03736245.2016.1217256 ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 23 A2.3. Additional literature consulted during the analysis Alexander, P. 2010. Rebellion of the poor. South Africa’s service delivery protests – a preliminary analysis. Review of African Political Economy 37(123): 25–40. DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) and SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute). 2011. Making the case for biodiversity: Final draft Project Summary Report, Department of Environmental Affairs and South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. DWA (Department of Water Affairs). 2009. Water reconciliation strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal coastal metropolitan areas. Department of Water Affairs, Pretoria. eThekwini Municipality. 2011. Ethekwini Municipality Integrated Development Plan 2011–2016. eThekwini Municipality, South Africa. Shezi, L. 2013. Service delivery protests as a catalyst for development: the case of eThekwini Municipality. MSc Thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Sutherland, C., D. Roberts, and J. Douwes. 2019. Constructing resilience at three scales: the 100 Resilient Cities Programme, Durban’s resilience journey and water resilience in the Palmiet catchment. Human Geography 12(1):33–49. https://doi.org/ 10.1177/194277861901200103 Zunckel, K. 2013. Supply chain management for PES in the Upper uThukela and Umzimvubu catchments: investments into ecological infrastructure in the Greater uMngeni River catchment. Unpublished Report, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Appendix C. Criteria, linked to capitals, used to determine system potential Capital Criterion Justification Application in our study Data source Social Trust and commitment Trust and social capital are mutually Assessed at catchment & ● Human Sciences Research capital reinforcing, with social capital organisational level. Council (HSRC) Evaluation of enabling trusting relationships ● Catchment: we used trust in local Public Opinion Programme that in turn produce social capital government as a reflection of (EPOP) 1998–2001 and the HSRC (Putnam 2000; Fu 2004; Myeong trust in other tiers of government South African Social Attitudes and Seo 2016). Trust and mandated to manage water Survey 2003–2018. commitment are regarded as two resources in uMngeni catchment. ● Document analysis together with key attributes of relational capital Organisational: we inferred the collective experience in and are suggested as a proxy for level of ‘trust and commitment’ in Partnership. potential (Nkhata et al. 2008; UEIP Tadesse and Kassie 2017) Natural Extent of remaining Ecosystems in good condition are Change in natural land cover National Land Cover data 2000 & capital natural ecosystems generally regarded as having categories between current and KwaZulu-Natal Land Cover 2008, a higher potential to deliver historic land cover data for the 2013 (adapted from Namugize important ecosystem services uMngeni catchment et al. 2018) (Grizzetti et al. 2019). Quality of water in We used long-term data sets of ● Laboratory Information river systems in the Escherichia coli (E-coli) counts, as Management System data catchment this is a reliable indicator of extract of routine Umgeni Water drinking water quality and is River sampling site data (2000– regularly monitored at multiple 2019). sites in the catchment. Financial Capital and reserves The loss or accumulation of financial We assessed financial capital at ● Financial statements in Umgeni capital available for water capital (or access to money) is a catchment & organisational level Water Annual Reports 2003 to resource considered by other scholars an as follows: 2019 management important criterion in defining Document analysis together with ● Catchment: We used changes in phases of the adaptive cycle and has collective experience in gross profit margin ratio (a finan- been applied in other cases (see for Partnership. cial metric that compares the example Abel et al. 2006). In our gross margin of a business to the case study, water resource net sales) of Umgeni Water as an management is funded through indicator of the accumulation or budget allocations to DWS, Umgeni release of financial resources. Water and municipalities. Other Organisational: we assessed the sectors such as agriculture, level of resources allocated to the environment, energy, and industry UEIP and its activities. also play a role but do not explicitly receive funds for water resource management. The scope of our assessment was limited as there is currently no water-related government function with its own finances (independent of national government) operating at a provincial scale (the regional office of DWS in KwaZulu-Natal is an extension of the National DWS). 24 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Appendix D. Summary of significant events and milestones in the formation of the UEIP, aligned with phases of the adaptive cycle Date Event Outcomes Reference* st Conservation phase 1 Pre-2009 In the uMngeni catchment, management of water Reductionist approach to water resource Manual et al. 2016; resources dominated by formally mandated management with little to no involvement of Gale 2020. institutions including Department of Water stakeholder or actor groups. Affairs and Water Services Authorities with little involvement of other actor groups. Management adopted a reductionist approach and only focused on engineering solutions. Release phase 2009 Reconciliation Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Supply/demand challenges in the catchment DWA 2009; Coastal Metropolitan Area Water Supply System highlighted and series of technocratic solutions Zunckel 2013. finalized. proposed. 2009 and 2010 Numerous service delivery protests in eThekwini Social discontent making managers more Alexander 2010; Metropolitan Municipality and across South receptive to alternative solutions to meet Shezi 2013. Africa. service delivery mandates. 2011 SANBI explores Payment for Ecosystem Services Innovative approach to water resources DEA and SANBI 2011; approaches and introduces concept of ‘natural management emerges. Zunckel 2013; infrastructure’. Swilling, Musango, and Wakeford 2016; Manual et al. 2016; Meissner 2021. 2011 eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality publish their Heightened awareness of deteriorating state of Ethekwini Municipality 2011. 2011/2012 Integrated Development Plan natural capital. highlighting the deteriorating state of natural resources. July 2012 Meeting between SANBI and the head of Recognition that engineering solutions alone Zunckel 2013; eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality’s were unlikely to address the problem. Manual et al. 2016. Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department EPCPD, followed by a meeting with SANBI, EPCPD and head of eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation Department. Reorganization phase September 2012 Concept note on natural infrastructure prepared First steps to mobilize other actors and leverage Zunckel 2013; to draw KZN DWA Regional and Umgeni Water resources. UEIP Concept note 2012. into the process. October 2012 - Series of engagements between SANBI, Formation of the initial informal actor group. Shift UEIP Discussion document January 2013 eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation Department from technocratic solutions to natural 2012. and Environmental Planning and Climate infrastructure as the latter added as an Protection Department, KZN DWA Regional and additional option for water delivery to the Umgeni Water. water reconciliation strategy. Preparation to mobilize additional and high-level actors. February 2013 First stakeholder workshop high-level inception Additional actors, synergies and knowledge gaps Zunckel 2013 workshop held in Pietermaritzburg and identified, and a common vision for attended by almost 80 people representing 35 a catchment wide partnership developed. organisations April 2013 First meeting of expanded informal actor group to Informal actor group expanded to include local UEIP Minutes 29 April 2013. discuss roles and responsibilities of core and provincial actors across scientific and partners [World Wildlife Fund South Africa management domains. Resources committed WWF-SA, Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust and significant effort by partners to leverage DUCT and the uMgungundlovu District more funds. Municipality UMDM added as additional partners]. August 2013 Second meeting of expanded informal actor Three Water Service Authorities eThekwini, UEIP Minutes 5 August 2013 group Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu committed to supporting pilot projects in their areas and SANBI and WWF commit funds to support the UEIP coordinator position. October 2013 Second stakeholder workshop held in Pilot projects to demonstrate benefits of UEIP Workshop proceedings Pietermaritzburg and attended by 55 ecological infrastructure identified. 10 October 2013; participants from a variety of organisations. Cobinnah and Addaney 2019. Exploitation phase November 2013 Launch of the UEIP at an event held in Durban Paradigm shift towards a more inclusive and UEIP Progress Report 2014; including a high-level dialogue on ecological systemic approach to managing resources Hordijk et al. 2014; infrastructure, the signing of the MoU by 16 Vogel et al. 2016 ; founding partners, and the launch of the pilot Chu, Anguelovski, and projects. Roberts 2017; Douwes 2018; Gale 2020. 2014 First meeting of the official UEIP UEIP officially established as a successful UEIP Minutes collaborative partnership with a diversity of November 2014. views and partners. (Continued ) ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 25 (Continued). Date Event Outcomes Reference* 2014–2015 Implementation of pilot projects begins Start of innovations to create shared knowledge UEIP Progress Report 2015; and meaning between different interest Sutherland, Jewitt et al. 2019; groups. Sutherland, Maseka et al. 2019; Cobinnah and Addaney 2019; Sutherland et al. 2019; Meissner 2021. May 2015 Full-time UEIP coordinator appointed and Funds released to support the coordinator UEIP Progress Report 2014; a coordinating committee and a research sub- position Sutherland, Jewitt, et al. committee, established. 2019. nd Conservation phase 2 2015 onwards Biannual meetings of UEIP held Regular meetings held which facilitated trust and UEIP Various minutes relationship building between actors within and beyond the catchment. July 2016 UEIP strategy document drafted which set out the Group consolidated around shared purpose and UEIP strategy 2016. purpose of the UEIP and provided direction to objectives. the partnership by defining the objectives of the UEIP and approaches towards achieving those objectives 2016 UEIP establishes an online presence and the The Partnership begins to share knowledge UEIP Progress Report 2017. activities and outputs of the work done under beyond the immediate group. the umbrella of the UEIP presented at several conferences and symposia March 2019 5-year celebrations of UEIP The UEIP is well established and has become a way of life. May 2020 Re-signing of the MoU by only 16 partners with Few organisations become dominant limiting DWS, eThekwini, Msunduzi and options for novelty and innovation. uMgungundlovu municipalities notably absent as signatories Note. Note that between 2016 and 2020 the UEIP continued to hold regular meetings although no other significant events were identified during this period other than those listed in the table. *Full references given in Appendix B. 26 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Appendix E. Summary of data used to determine phases of the adaptive cycle Figure A1. 1. Trends in trust in local government (Data source: (2021a), 2021b). Figure 4.2. Trends in financial capital of Umgeni Water (Data source: Umgeni Water Annual Reports 2003 to 2019). Figure 4.3. Trend in land cover in the upper uMngeni catchment (adapted from Namugize et al. 2018 (Note that land cover data was only available to 2011). Figure 4.4. Percentage of river sampling sites in the Msunduzi municipal area of the uMngeni catchment with results >10000 E Coli/100 ml (Data source: (2021)). ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 27 Appendix F. Overview of criteria of learning, power, agency and structure in the uMngeni case study Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Learning Single, Single single-loop Individual double-loop Collective double loop Triple loop learning Single-loop learning double or learning with focus learning by key learning evident in evident in structural signalled by triple on improving actors in eThekwini mobilisation of the change as the UEIP limited change in loop existing water Municipality informal actor is formed, and the practices on the learning management reframe their group around the concept of ground. The practices such as existing assumption central idea of ecological ecological building dams (see that engineering ecological infrastructure is infrastructure examples in various solutions were the infrastructure and included in the concept also documents such as only option. the co-design of President’s Strategic doesn’t feature in Umgeni Water’s pilot projects. Integrated Project Catchment Annual Report Plan (under Management 2007). Strategic Strategy, although Infrastructure broader catchment Project #19 (SIP19)). management issues are considered as they relate to impacts on water resources. Power Control Strong control power Local and country- Control power UEIP seen as powerful Power of UEIP wanes power as DWS, Umgeni wide protests signal weakens as other structure and hailed as powerful actors Water and weakening control powerful non-state as a flagship (including DWS, eThekwini power as powerful actors are invited to collaborative eThekwini, Municipality organisations are participate in water governance Msunduzi and (regarded as some seen to have failed resources structure that could uMgungundlovu) of the most in delivery of water management such be transferred to absent as powerful (and other) services. as DUCT, WESSA other catchments signatories in the organisations in the However, the and civil society (See Sutherland and re-signing of the catchment) have full Regional (See Rowlands et al. Roberts 2014). MoU. These control over the Department of 2013). Power emerged organisations distribution of water Water and through the retain their strong in the catchment. Sanitation and involvement of control power. Umgeni Water still numerous partners hold power in (including powerful respect of the 2009 DWS, Umgeni Water Reconciliation and municipalities) Strategy, and and its location in through that could an economic influence licensing powerhouse. and allocation Agential Limited agential Limited agential Increasing agential Increasing agential Limited agential power power with no power with no power as key actors power as power as the examples of actors examples of actors used their positions representatives Partnership lacks using structures to using structures to to promote the from powerful political promote change. promote change. concept of organizations to champions in ecological promote the high-ranking infrastructure. For concept of positions and example, top-level ecological instead comprises managers at infrastructure. low-ranking eThekwini However, high officials. Municipality (one of ranking municipal the most powerful officials either organisations in the retired or catchment – see designated Rowlands et al. responsibilities to 2013) gave various less senior presentations and members. press releases on the benefits of ecological infrastructure. These actors had also been embedded in the system for a long time, had extensive networks and were internationally recognized. (Continued ) 28 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. (Continued). Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Protean The innovative power solution of ecological infrastructure emerged during a time of uncertainty and risk (created by country wide protests, the story of the catchment running out of water (captured in the 2009 Reconciliation Strategy), deteriorating state of ecosystems, and looming local government elections) giving rise to protean power for those actors proposing the innovation. Ideational Through various Through policies and ‘Power through ideas’ ‘Power through ideas’ ‘Power over ideas’ as power policies and strategies, such as evident as key reflected as key SIP19 is strategies such as the Reconciliation actors (at DWS, actors (including abandoned. The the National Water Strategy for the Umgeni Water, both state and civil ecological Conservation and KwaZulu-Natal eThekwini society groups infrastructure Water Demand Coastal Municipality and represented in the concept is also Management Metropolitan Area SANBI) sought to UEIP) lobbied for excluded from the Strategy, DWS and Water Supply, DWS persuade others the inclusion of the Catchment Umgeni Water and Umgeni Water through technical ecological Management exerted control over continued to exert and scientific infrastructure Strategy although the idea that ‘power over the reasoning that concept in national the document engineering idea’ that ecological strategies such as does address solutions were the technocratic infrastructure was the President’s broader catchment only solution. solutions were the a feasible Strategic Integrated management preferred option. alternative solution. Project Plan (under issues, as they Strategic relate to impacts Infrastructure on water Project #19 (SIP19)). resources. The concept also featured in the National Water Resource Strategy 2. Agency Individual Limited individual and Two key individuals at Strategic agency Strategic agency is Limited strategic and/or strategic agency eThekwini evident as actors reflected in the agency evident as strategic with no examples of municipality were mobilised around shared values and commitment to agency key actions by critical in initiating the concept of interests of the UEIP the UEIP wanes skilled actors or processes linked to ecological and was further and the collective the launch of UEIP. infrastructure. They enhanced by the Partnership mobilisation around These actors were began to leverage pilot projects. struggles to adopt shared interests. highly educated and resources to A new UEIP co- a self-funding experienced promote their ordinator was model. SANBI is individuals who collective interest appointed but was fully financing the were internationally and committed new to the coordinator recognized. funds to train 200 catchment with position at this people in ecological relatively few point in time. infrastructure, to networks which appoint an external limited her coordinator for the individual agency. partnership, and to implement pilot projects. (Continued ) ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 29 (Continued). Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Structure Institutional Institutional structure Institutional structure Institutional structure The launch of the UEIP Institutional structure structure characterised by continues to reflect starts to shift signals a hybrid continues to a hierarchical mode a hierarchical mode towards a hybrid governance mode reflect a hybrid of governance with of governance with governance mode which mediates mode of specific organs of water resource as independent between the governance. State including management actors begin to hierarchical and DWS, and provincial dominated by state organise themselves network governance and local organisations. into a self- styles. government constructed mandated to collaborative undertake water structure. management with few other actors involved. Relational Low relational Low relational Relational structure Increasing relational Decreasing relational structure structure as few structure as few increased with the structure as almost structure as actors involved in actors involved in formation of an 40 organisations commitment to water management water management informal actor commit to the UEIP the UEIP wanes group, which in November 2013. with DWS, included four initial eThekwini, partners (eThekwini Msunduzi and Metropolitan uMgungundlovu Municipality, SANBI, municipalities KwaZulu-Natal DWS notably absent as and Umgeni Water) signatories in the and was later resigning of the expanded to include Memorandum of World Wildlife Fund Understanding. South Africa (WWF- SA), the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM), Msunduzi Municipality and the Wildlife and Environment Society (WESSA). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecosystems and People Taylor & Francis

Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in South Africa

Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in South Africa

Abstract

We explore the social processes supporting transformation towards collaborative water governance in the uMngeni catchment, South Africa. Using Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic of phases (conservation, release, reorganisation and exploitation) present during transformation of social-ecological systems, we consider the role of learning, power, agency and structure during each phase of the evolution of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP). The UEIP is a...
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10.1080/26395916.2023.2213780
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ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 2023, VOL. 19, NO. 1, 2213780 https://doi.org/10.1080/26395916.2023.2213780 RESEARCH Exploring social processes in transformation: the case of a collaborative water partnership in South Africa a b a,c d e Catherine B. Pringle , Richard Meissner , Reinette Biggs , Claudia Pahl-Wostl , Sabine Stuart-Hill and Nadia Sitas a b Centre for Sustainability Transitions, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Department of Political Sciences, University of c d South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Institute of Geography and Institute of Environmental Systems Research, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany; Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Received 24 May 2022 We explore the social processes supporting transformation towards collaborative water Accepted 4 May 2023 governance in the uMngeni catchment, South Africa. Using Holling’s adaptive cycle as a heuristic of phases (conservation, release, reorganisation and exploitation) present during EDITED BY transformation of social-ecological systems, we consider the role of learning, power, agency Matthew Weaver and structure during each phase of the evolution of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure KEYWORDS Partnership (UEIP). The UEIP is a partnership between government, research institutions, and Transformation; adaptive civil society groups that facilitates broader and more collaborative participation in water cycle; learning; power, management. During the conservation phase, strong control power and institutional struc- agency; structure; ture (denoted by a hierarchical governance mode embodying control and regulation by the collaborative water State) limited the introduction of new ideas and reinforced single-loop learning. The release governance; uMngeni phase was triggered by a shock which weakened control power and permitted the introduc- catchment tion of new ideas thereby enabling double-loop learning. The changing conditions gave rise to protean power (defined as results of practices of agile actors coping with uncertainty) which enhanced the agency of key actors who began to mobilise others in a rapid phase of re-organisation. Triple-loop learning was evident in the exploitation phase as new collabora- tive institutions, that were better able to accommodate innovative ideas, began to emerge. We found the adaptive cycle helpful for delineating phases of change, while the four multi- faceted processes of learning, power, agency and structure proved useful in illuminating dynamics of change. This understanding may help to inform actions to steer transformations towards more sustainable and collaborative water governance in South Africa and elsewhere. Introduction knowing and meaning (Johannessen et al. 2018). Triple- loop learning is only possible though when more intri- The depth of the social and environmental challenges cate political (power relations) and social (structure- that we face calls for profound changes in the govern- agency-learning) aspects are addressed (Flood and ance of interlinked social and ecological systems. How Room 2018). However, these processes and their transformation to more equitable and sustainable dynamics are not well-understood, and there is limited futures can be realised, is increasingly discussed and guidance available to governments or other actors about debated (Future Earth 2014; Patterson et al. 2017; how to foster or support transformative change. Leach et al. 2018). Transformation requires radical Although there is consensus that transformation and systemic changes in multiple aspects of social- requires fundamental change, diverse world views have ecological systems such as changes in values and beliefs, fostered different understandings and applications of the patterns of social behaviour, and multilevel governance concept. The term ‘transformation’ is used both strategi- and management regimes (Olsson et al. 2014; Sievers- cally to offer a potential solution to issues that are prac- Glotzbach and Tschersich 2019; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. tical and socially desirable as well as analytically to study 2020). Such processes typically involve interactions of and explain past and present developments (Brand multiple factors, acting at different scales (Olsson et al. 2016). The strategic use of the concept does not engage 2006, 2014). Central to transformative change is triple- with structural barriers to transformation. However, its loop learning, which progresses from changes in estab- analytical application takes into account the hierarchical lished paradigms (single-loop learning), to challenging aspects of societies and the ways in which individuals and underlying assumptions (double-loop learning), and groups are situated in relation to social structures and finally towards structural change and new ways of CONTACT Catherine B. Pringle catherine.kate.pringle@gmail.com © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent. 2 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. systems of power (social and power positions). These learning, power, agency and structure, shift during positions are established according to relations of class, different phases of change. Below we describe the gender, and race and are reflected in economic, political, adaptive cycle and how we interpret these four social and cultural interactions (Brand 2016). In this paper, we processes in the context of our study. use an analytical approach to explore existing structures and narratives to better understand transformation. Adaptive cycle Several analytical and conceptual frameworks have emerged for analysing transformations. These include The adaptive cycle is a heuristic framework that has the multi-level perspective framework (MLP) (Geels been widely used to describe phases of change in 2011; El Bilali 2019), transitions management (Kemp social-ecological systems (Gunderson and Holling et al. 2007; El Bilali 2019), innovation systems 2002). It has also proved useful for illuminating (Lachman 2013) and social-ecological transforma- dynamics in social systems, including governance tions (and broader resilience theory) (Olsson et al. systems (Gunderson and Holling 2002; Bohensky 2004, 2006). Despite extensive application of these 2008; Daedlow et al. 2011; Herrfahrdt-Pähle and frameworks, various shortcomings have been identi- Pahl-Wostl 2012; Westley et al. 2013; Salvia and fied. The MLP has been criticized for amongst others, Quaranta 2015). The adaptive cycle is based on two underplaying the role of agency (Smith et al. 2005; dimensions, the range of potential in the system and Geels 2011), omitting institutions and ideologies the degree of connectedness (Gunderson and Holling (Geels 2011; Meadowcroft 2011), and failing to ade- 2002) (Figure 1). Potential (represented on the quately address power and politics (Geels 2011; Kern Y-axis) describes the wealth of ecological, social or 2011; Meadowcroft 2011). Transitions management economic resources available to a system for change has tended to simplify the scope of the transition and (Holling 2001; Bohensky 2008; Westley et al. 2013; neglected the influence of internal and external fac- Sundstrom and Allen 2019). These resources may be tors such as belief systems, political interests, and accumulated or released and set the limits of possible culture (Lachman 2013), while social-ecological options (Holling 2001; Gunderson and Holling 2002). transformations (and broader resilience theory) have Connectedness (represented on the X-axis) reflects been criticised for not considering the role of power the strength of internal relationships and processes and politics in transformation processes (Pelling and that mediate and regulate external influences (Holling Manuel-Navarrete 2011; Fabinyi et al. 2014; Moore 2001; Bohensky 2008). Low connectedness implies et al. 2014; Olsson et al. 2014). Although scholars in a set of diffuse components loosely connected to some fields have sought to address these concerns, one another, whose behaviour is dominated by out- they have tended to analyse pieces of the transforma- side variability. High connectedness is associated with tion puzzle, such as the role of learning (e.g. Armitage aggregated components that mediate the influence of et al. 2008; Pahl-Wostl et al. 2013; Johannessen et al. external variability (Gunderson and Holling 2002). 2018), power (e.g. Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete Connectedness also provides a measure of the degree 2011; Avelino and Wittmayer 2016) and agency (e.g. of flexibility or rigidity of a system (Holling 2001; Westley et al. 2013; Sannino 2015) but have rarely Gunderson and Holling 2002). A highly internally captured the dynamic and inter-dependent relation- connected system is often rigid and vulnerable to ships between social processes that occur during a shock or disturbance because of reduced diversity transformations. and an inability to self-organise (Fath et al. 2015; We address this gap and investigate the role of Sundstrom and Allen 2019). four interdependent social processes, namely, learn- Together, potential and connectedness shape four ing, power, agency, and structure, in transformation interlinked phases of change: growth or exploitation towards collaborative water governance. Using a case (r), conservation (K), collapse or release (Ω) and study of a collaborative water partnership in South reorganization (α) (Gunderson and Holling 2002) Africa, we aim to explore the role of these processes (Figure 1). It is assumed that complex systems move in different stages of transformation, as defined by from exploitation to a mature phase of conservation the adaptive cycle (Gunderson and Holling 2002). on the front loop of the cycle. As potential and con- Our objective is to strengthen analytical understand- nectedness increase, the system becomes rigid and ing of transformation, and thereby inform strategic vulnerable, and a new phase of release may be trig- actions to support transformative change. gered by a disturbance. The system then shifts to the back loop of the cycle where the release of accumu- lated resources is quickly followed by a period of Conceptual framework reorganization. At the end of the reorganization To achieve our aim, we first map the evolution of phase, the system may enter a second iteration of an a collaborative water partnership onto the adaptive alternatively configured system (Holling 1986). cycle, and then explore how different facets of Adaptive cycles can be connected in a nested ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 3 Figure 1. The adaptive cycle showing the four phases of change (exploitation, conservation, release and reorganization) along the dimensions of connectedness (x-axis) and potential (y-axis) (adapted from Gunderson and Holling (2002) and Westley et al. (2013)). hierarchy at multiple scales of space and time. This learning entails making improvements within interacting set of hierarchical scales is known as established paradigms; double-loop learning panarchy. occurs when reframing challenges established beliefs, while triple-loop learning involves struc- tural change and new ways of knowing and Learning, power, agency and structure meaning (Argyris 1999; Pahl-Wostl et al. 2013; We focus our analysis on four social processes, Johannessen et al. 2018). namely, learning, power, agency and structure, as sev- Power: We draw on the concept of social power eral scholars recognize them as essential components ‘the capacity of persons to bring about certain of transformation in social-ecological systems. For states of affairs by influencing the actions of instance, Pahl-Wostl (2009), Pahl-Wostl et al. (2013) others by giving them a reason to act’ (Stahl and others consistently highlight the importance of 2011, p. 351). We differentiate four types of multi-loop learning in transformative processes (see power: control power, agential power, protean also Armitage et al. 2008; Johannessen et al. 2018) power and ideational power. Control power is while Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete (2011) draw usually understood in behavioural, institutional, attention to the crucial role of power in determining and structural terms (Katzenstein and Seybert when and how transformations occur. Similarly, there 2018) and refers to the consequences of actions has been much discussion on how agency influences in contexts of risk that are experienced as such system dynamics (see for example Emirbayer and by actors (Katzenstein and Seybert 2018). In Mische 1998; Garud and Karnoe 2005; Westley et al. contrast to relatively passive control power, 2013) and the interaction between agency and struc- agents may acquire power through intentional ture has been the subject of a long-running debate actions or through inaction or failure to act (Bourdieu 1977; Giddens 1984; Archer 2003; Unger (Hayward and Lukes 2008). This type of power 2004). In a new conceptual framework proposed by is underpinned by structuration theory and is Lotz-Sisitka et al. (Forthcoming), these four social captured in the concept of reflexive agential processes are also recognized as useful start-up lenses power defined as the ability ‘ . . . to enhance for analyzing larger transformative processes, particu- their power by working “through” or “with”, larly in nexus settings. rather than “against”, social forces at the domes- Learning, power, agency, and structure are multi- tic, regional and global levels’ (Hobson and faceted and can be understood in different ways. Ramesh 2002, p. 9–10). Although Hobson and Below we outline how we understand and apply Ramesh’s (2002) definition is commonly used in these concepts within our study. political sciences, we acknowledge that agential Learning: We focus on transformative learning power is a contested concept (Gilabert 2018). and consider three types of learning loops: sin- The power of agents may also emerge in relation gle, double and triple-loop learning. Single loop to uncertain contexts and is captured in the 4 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. notion of protean power. Katzenstein and strategic investment in ecological infrastructure by Seybert (2018) define protean power as the enabling coordination, collaboration and joint results of practices of agile actors coping with learning. uncertainty. Finally, we consider ideational The UEIP was formally established in November 2013 power, the capacity of actors (whether indivi- upon the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding dual or collective) to influence other actors’ (MoU) by 16 founding partner organisations (UEIP normative and cognitive beliefs through the 2013). The launch of the UEIP followed a turbulent use of ideational elements (Carstensen and period of service delivery protests and water shortages, Schmidt 2016; Meissner and Warner 2021). which prompted key actors to rethink water manage- Agency: We rely on theories of transformative ment strategies. This turbulent period formed part of the agency, and its dynamics as it relates to indivi- crisis narrative from which the UEIP emerged. Since its duals and groups. Individual agency refers to the launch, the Partnership has become institutionalized capacity of an individual to influence their func- with its activities managed by a fulltime co-ordinator, tioning and the course of events by their actions a coordinating committee, and a research sub- (Bandura 2001), whereas strategic agency is pro- committee. duced through the actions of several actors The UEIP operates within the uMngeni catchment rather than those of just one individual (Garud located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South and Karnoe 2005; Westley et al. 2013). Africa (Figure 2). The catchment covers less than 5% of Structure: Our evaluation of social structure the province but provides water to 42% of KZN’s popu- considers both institutional and relational struc- lation, including the economic hub of Durban governed ture. Institutional structure encompasses the by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (Pringle formal and informal norms that shape indivi- et al. 2016; UEIP 2016; Meissner 2021). The catchment dual action, while relational structure includes includes the 225 km-long uMngeni River which rises in the relations between actors in the network the uMngeni Vlei in the west and flows through (López and Scott 2000). uMgungundlovu District Municipality and the These processes are emergent and interdependent eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality before entering and can be iteratively related to one another. They the Indian Ocean just north of Durban. are also strongly influenced by context as well as The catchment is primarily used for commercial spatial and temporal scales (Lotz-Sisitka et al. agricultural activities including cattle, dairy, poultry, Forthcoming). sugar cane and timber production. These activities, coupled with rapidly expanding urban and peri- urban areas, have significantly impacted water quality Case study: the uMngeni ecological while the spread of invasive alien plants has adversely infrastructure partnership affected water availability (Jewitt et al. 2015). Demand This study focuses on the evolution of the uMngeni for water from the catchment also exceeds its ability Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP) within to supply a burgeoning population and increased the broader water governance system of the uMngeni economic activity. Consequently, the catchment is catchment. This evolution entailed a process by ‘closed’, meaning that all available water has been allocated and the catchment is in water deficit which the prevalent water governance system shifted into a new configuration of collaboration, which we (DWA 2013). assume represents a transformation. As with other catchments in South Africa, the The UEIP is a collaborative partnership that uMngeni is managed by the Department of Water includes representatives from provincial and local and Sanitation (DWS), who is the designated legal government, research institutions, and business and custodian of the country’s water resources. In accor- civil society groups working in the uMngeni catch- dance with the National Water Act and Water ment (see Appendix A for a description of key parti- Services Act, the DWS is supported by several official cipants). The UEIP has been hailed as a flagship entities that are constituted by law (such as structure that can be applied in other catchments. Catchment Management Agencies, Water User Associations, Water Services Authorities, Water The Partnership is centred around the concept of ecological infrastructure, which refers to ‘naturally Service Providers, and Water Boards). There are functioning ecosystems that deliver valuable services also some voluntary platforms that stakeholders can participate in to discuss water resource issues, includ- to people, such as fresh water, climate regulation, soil formation and disaster risk reduction’ (SANBI ing Catchment Management Forums and the UEIP. 2013: 1). The UEIP aims to harness the potential of Although the UEIP itself does not have any decision- these intact, functioning ecosystems to complement making authority, it is regarded as flagship structure built infrastructure in order to improve water secur- that can strongly influence water resource manage- ity. To achieve this, the Partnership promotes ment decisions. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 5 Figure 2. Map indicating the location of the uMngeni catchment. Inset photo shows some of the UEIP participants (Photo credit: South African National Biodiversity Institute). Materials and methods and later refined using written records and per- sonal observations. Data collection and analysis (2) Various documents reporting on the UEIP, We applied an instrumental case study approach including minutes from UEIP meetings, work- shops and annual progress reports, as well as (Stake 2005; Yin 2009) to explore social processes in the different phases of transformation of the UEIP books, reports, journal articles and graduate stu- within the broader water governance system of the dent theses. Following the workshop, documents uMngeni catchment. Case study research draws on were gathered from key stakeholders involved multiple sources of evidence (Stake 2005; Yin 2009). (either currently or formerly) in the Partnership Documents may be used as a source of contextual and from a literature search conducted on Google information about events that cannot be directly Scholar using the term ‘uMngeni Ecological observed and are often coupled with personal obser- Infrastructure Partnership’. The latter yielded vations and experience of researchers involved in the a total of 52 documents, which were reviewed. case (Stake 1995). Documents which only briefly mentioned the For this study, we used data from two key sources: uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership were discarded leaving a total of 17 documents, (1) A group of researchers who have an in-depth which were included in the analysis (see understanding of the UEIP as they have been Appendix B). working in the catchment for more than a decade. During a Water-Energy-Food (WEF) To analyse the documents, we followed a deductive nexus workshop held in Grahamstown, South approach to identify information for (i) mapping the Africa in November 2019, a group of five evolution of the UEIP in terms of the adaptive cycle, researchers working in the uMngeni catchment and (ii) understanding the social processes within (four of whom are authors in this paper) each phase leading to change. Deductive approaches reflected on the four social processes during the are useful when researchers have a clear understand- evolution of the UEIP. These reflections were ing of the concepts that they are interested in captured on a flipchart with supporting notes (MacQueen et al. 1998). To identify the different 6 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. phases of the adaptive cycle, we developed pre- focused on three types of capital which we define as defined codes for selected dimensions of potential follows: and connectedness (namely trust and commitment, ● Social capital: ‘networks together with shared diversity of actors; diversity and strength of relation- norms, values and understandings that facilitate ships; and water governance approaches coded as cooperation within or among groups’ (OECD either systems or reductionist). This information 2001, p. 41); was later combined with other numerically based Natural capital: the stock of natural resources or indicators to reflect on the phases of the adaptive assets from which ecosystem services flow cycle. To explore the social processes within each (Costanza and Daly 1992; Costanza et al. 1997); phase leading to change we developed pre-defined Economic capital (or specifically financial capi- codes for the different dimensions of learning, tal): the financial resources which underpin eco- power, agency and structure (namely, single-, double- nomic activity (Goodwin 2003). and triple-loop learning; control, protean, ideational System potential was gauged from the levels of and agential power; individual and strategic agency; social, natural, and economic capital inferred from institutional structure coded as either hierarchical, levels of trust and commitment (Fu 2004; Nkhata network or hybrid governance styles, and relational et al. 2008; Myeong and Seo 2016), ecosystem con- structure coded as diversity of actors and level of dition (Grizzetti et al. 2019) and the amount of interaction). The documents were reviewed and stored financial capital, respectively (Table 1 and coded using these pre-defined codes to identify rele- Appendix C). These criteria were plotted and/or vant statements and examples of each dimension. The described to identify trends and breakpoints in emerging data were coupled with notes from the time. For each time period, we then captured the WEF workshop to adjust or expand on our initial overall accumulation (high level) or release (low interpretations. Further detail on each of these level) of each capital to determine system potential. dimensions is included in the following section. High levels of capitals signalled high system potential. Within the time periods (identified from trends Mapping the evolution of the UEIP onto the in capital), we then assessed connectedness. Similar adaptive cycle to Nkhata et al. (2008), we conceptualised connect- We determined phases of change aligned to the adap- edness as the degree to which actors in water gov- tive cycle. Our goal was to define different phases in ernance in the uMngeni catchment are linked and the transformation process rather than to test the the strength of those links that mediate change. usefulness of the adaptive cycle concept. Using document analysis and our collective experi- The identification of different stages of change was ence in water resource management in the catch- first carried out by the research group at the WEF ment, we inferred the degree to which actors are workshop based on local knowledge and experience. linked based on the diversity and strength of rela- Three initial stages were defined for the uMngeni tionships between them. This was partly informed water governance system namely 1) start-up, 2) take- by the water resource management approach off, and 3) stagnation. Following the workshop, these reported in the literature, with a reductionist were refined based on an approximate analysis of approach reflecting a lower diversity of actors system potential and connectedness. This analysis involved in water resource management. We then relied on a combination of documentary evidence, used the levels of system potential and connected- data, and local knowledge and followed an iterative ness expressed during different time periods to map process. Although our analysis was underpinned by the evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle a considerable amount of data, it still retained (Holling 2001; Gunderson and Holling 2002). a certain degree of subjectivity, particularly in deter- mining the diversity of actors and their level of inter- Analysis of learning, power, agency and structure action, which impacted both the identification of the To analyse learning, power, agency and structure phases and the assessment of structure. To minimise within each phase of the adaptive cycle, we developed the impact of subjectivity, we used peer debriefing, in a set of qualitative indicators that capture different which the results were reviewed for potential errors facets of each of these four processes. and biases by other team members not involved in In respect of learning, and similar to Johannessen the analysis but who have an understanding of the et al. (2018), we identified examples linked to the three catchment and the UEIP. types of learning loops. For single-loop learning, we To assess potential, we followed other scholars in identified where past patterns of behaviours were re- exploring the accumulation or release of different enacted, such as where strategies or actions, under- types of capitals (see for example Abel et al. 2006; pinned by accepted values and norms, remained Daedlow et al. 2011; Salvia and Quaranta 2015). We unchanged. For double-loop learning, we highlight ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 7 Table 1. Criteria, linked to capitals, used to determine system potential. Capital Criterion Justification Application in our study Social capital Trust and commitment Trust and commitment regarded as two key attributes of Assessed at catchment & relational capital and suggested as a proxy for organisational level. potential by other scholars (Nkhata et al. 2008; ● Catchment: trust in local gov- Tadesse and Kassie 2017). ernment used as proxy of trust in other tiers of government. ● Organisational: inferred level of ‘trust and commitment’ in UEIP Natural capital Extent of remaining Ecosystems in good condition have higher potential to Change in current and historic natural ecosystems deliver ecosystem services (Grizzetti et al. 2019). natural land cover categories. Quality of water in river Escherichia coli (E-coli) counts systems in the used as indicator of drinking catchment water quality. Financial capital Capital and reserves Loss or accumulation of financial capital (or access to Assessed at a catchment & available for water money) used by other scholars to define phases of the organisational level. resource adaptive cycle (see for example Abel et al. 2006). ● Catchment: Changes in gross management profit margin of Umgeni Water. ● Organisational: Level of resources allocated to the UEIP and its activities. goals, strategies or perspectives that were altered or embeddedness to mitigate structural impediments or reframed in a novel and different way in response to to promote specific interests, agency translates into a new understanding, and for triple-loop learning, we the capacity to act (Bandura 2001). This definition note structural changes in management and govern- aligns with Ling and Dale (2013), who note that for ment processes linked to other learning-loops. agency to manifest, an individual must be sufficiently We assess four different types of power: control, connected to other individuals in their community or protean, ideational and agential. Our analysis of con- to hierarchies of power, and must also have the trol power focuses on its institutional dimension. As intent, time, skills and self-efficacy to see problems suggested by Stahl (2011), we consider the implied and identify solutions. To reflect on agency, we con- power associated with institutional status. We base sidered the competence, skills and knowledge of key this assessment on the power of organisations in the actors involved in the evolution of the UEIP as uMngeni catchment determined through power map- a measure of ‘ability’ (Alkire 2008). However, we ping (undertaken by Rowlands et al. 2013) and local acknowledge that this indicator is incomplete as it knowledge. To reflect on protean power, we identify does not capture ‘intent’. To assess strategic agency, situations where innovation emerges in relation to we identify instances where groups of actors define uncertainty and risk. We use dominant discourses shared values and interests and agree on a path to (captured in policy and strategy documents) to serve their interests. In addition, we note strategic explore the presence of three types of ideational actions taken by these groups, or individuals within power: power through ideas (or the ‘capacity of actors the group, to achieve the transformation, such as to persuade other actors to accept and adopt their leveraging support or mobilizing resources (see views of what to think and do through the use of Dorado 2005; Westley et al. 2013). ideational elements’); power over ideas (or ‘the capa- We explore institutional structure through the pre- city of actors to control and dominate the meaning of sence of three different governance styles, which ideas’; and power in ideas (or ‘the authority of certain reflect different rules, values and logics (Keast et al. ideas in structuring thought at the expense of other 2006; Pahl-Wostl 2019), namely (1) hierarchical gov- ideas’) (Carstensen and Schmidt 2016; Meissner and ernance that embodies control and regulation by the Warner 2021). We reflect on agential power as fol- State; (2) network governance that is characterised by lows: whereas the other forms of power highlight collaboration between independent actors within either the actor or the structure, agential power a self-constructed structure (den Ouden 2015); and simultaneously reflects on actors and structures and (3) hybrid governance formations that mediate give both equal weighting. In other words, we identify between hierarchical and network governance styles examples when agents utilised structures, particularly (Stuart-Hill et al. 2020). We further consider the their position in the network, to promote certain development of policy instruments which mirror interests or bring about change. these different styles. To assess relational structure, We draw a distinction between agential power and we reflect on heterogeneity: the diversity of actors agency, although acknowledge that the two are inter- involved in the process during different stages of twined. While agential power relates to the capacity the transformative process (Sandström and Rova to embed into a network and to use that 2010). 8 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Results these periods, we also identified changes in system connectedness. We investigated the social processes underlying the The first period occurred between 2000 and 2009 transformation of water governance in the uMngeni and was characterised by fluctuating levels of trust catchment in two steps: 1) we mapped the evolution in local government signalling variable levels of of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle, and 2) we social capital. We identified high levels of financial explored the processes of learning, power, agency, capital as financial resources were accumulated by and structure in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Umgeni Water. Although natural areas were rapidly transformed and water quality deteriorated, natural capital remained higher than at any other time Mapping the evolution of the UEIP onto the during the transformation. Relatively high levels of adaptive cycle all three capitals suggest that system potential was In this section, we describe the phases of the adaptive high. During this period, water resource manage- cycle identified during the evolution of the UEIP over ment was controlled by a few actors (from DWS, the period 2000 to 2018/2019. We present changes in Umgeni Water and the Municipalities) with strong system potential and connectedness used to map the relationships formed through continuous interac- evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle. tion. Low diversity was also reflected in the reduc- A timeline of significant events and milestones, tionist approach to water resource management. (aligned to the phases of the adaptive cycle) during This low diversity coupled with strong interactions the evolution of the UEIP is included in Appendix D. indicates a highly connected and vulnerable system. The second period commenced in 2009, as trust in local government began to plummet. By 2012 it Trajectories in system potential and connectedness had reached its lowest level since 1998. Service We identified five trends in capitals in the uMngeni delivery protests erupted in the catchment and water governance system between 2000 and 2019. These across the country and social capital declined. trends suggest alternating periods of accumulation and Natural capital also declined as water quality dete- release of capitals, with corresponding changes in sys- riorated further and more natural areas were tem potential (Table 2 and Appendix C). Within Table 2. Criteria used to reflect on trends in the accumulation or release of social, natural, and financial capitals. Time period Social Natural Financial Pre-2009 Fluctuating levels of social capital, with Declining natural capital, with the extent Accumulating financial capital, as trust in local government close to of natural land cover in the upper Umgeni Water’s capital and reserves doubling between 2001 and 2004 catchment decreasing from 53.62% in grew by 61% between 2005 and 2009 whereafter it declined rapidly to almost 2000 to 45.90% in 2008 (Appendix 5. (UW 2010) (Appendix 5. Figure 4.2). 30% but increased again around 2007 Figure 4.3) and water quality (Appendix 5. Figure 4.1). deteriorating in some parts of the catchment, with a 5% increase in the number of sites with results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL (Appendix 5. Figure 4.4). Despite this deterioration, natural capital in this phase was in its best state relative to other times in the transformation. 2009 – July 2012 Declining social capital, as trust in local Declining natural capital, with continued Releases in financial capital, as government began to erode around loss of natural areas (from 45.9% to significant funds spent on chemicals 2009 and service delivery protests 42.23%) (Appendix 5. Figure 5.3) and to clean the highly polluted water erupted in the catchment and across further deterioration in water quality in (UW 2013), resulting in Umgeni the country. By July 2012, trust in local parts of the catchment, with almost Water’s gross profit margin ratio government had reached its lowest a 10% increase in the number of sites tumbling from 63% in 2009 to 54% in level since 1998 (Appendix 4. with results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL 2012 (UW 2013) (Appendix 5. Figure 4.1). (Appendix 5. Figure 4.4). Figure 4.2). September 2012 Increasing social capital, as actors Declining natural capital, with a 5% Accumulation of financial capital, as – October 2013 mobilize around the concept of increase in the number of sites with finances committed to training and ecological infrastructure and commit to results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL the implementation of pilot projects the concept of the uMngeni Ecological (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). to demonstrate the benefits of Infrastructure Partnership. ecological infrastructure November 2013 Increasing social capital, as the launch of Declining natural capital, with a 5% Release of financial capital by various – May 2015? the UEIP is attended by numerous increase in the number of sites with actors including SANBI, to facilitate actors and the 16 founding partners results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL the start-up of the UEIP. sign the MoU. Trust and commitment (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). continue to increase as regular meetings of the UEIP are held. 2015 (?) − 2019 Declining social capital, as commitment to Declining natural capital, with a 5% Declining financial capital, as the UEIP the UEIP wanes (with DWS, eThekwini, increase in the number of sites with struggles to adopt a self-funding Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu results >10000 E. coli per 100 mL model. municipalities notably absent as (Appendix 5. Figures 4.3 & 4.4). signatories in the resigning of the Memorandum of Understanding). ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 9 transformed. Financial resources were released by period was also characterised by continued deteriora- Umgeni Water to counteract water quality chal- tion of natural capital and declining financial capital, lenges. The decline in all three capitals leads to the as the UEIP struggled to adopt a self-funding model. conclusion that system potential was low. The decline in all three capitals leads to the conclu- Connectedness was categorised as high as the con- sion that system potential was low, which some actors trol exerted by a few tightly connected actors con- worry may limit the Partnership’s capacity to capita- tinued from the previous period. However, this lize on future opportunities for transformation control was weakened by the protests which per- towards desired goals. Reduced actor diversity, mitted the entry of new actors (including SANBI coupled with strong relationships (formed through and the Environmental Planning and Climate enduring patterns of interaction) of those who Protection Department (EPCPD) at eThekwini remained, resulted in an increasingly connected Municipality) and the formation of new relation- system. ships and interactions. The third period took place between 2012 and Connecting changes in system potential and 2013. In September 2012, the first steps were taken connectedness to adaptive cycle phases to mobilize actors around the concept of ecological Based on changes in system potential and connected- infrastructure. Numerous actors committed to the ness, we mapped the evolution of the UEIP onto the concept of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure adaptive cycle (Table 3). We summarise these results Partnership which signalled increasing social capi- as follows: tal. Financial capital was accumulated as actors Pre-2009: High potential coupled with high con- committed funds to the Partnership. Despite nectedness suggests that the system was in declining natural capital, the accumulation of a Conservation phase. social and economic capital suggests that system 2009 – July 2012: Low potential and high con- potential was high. A systems approach to water nectedness indicate that the system was in management emerged and new actors were invited a Release phase. to participate in water resource management ● September 2012 – October 2013: High potential (including non-profit organisations, civil society together with low connectedness denote groups, and academia). Although their participa- a Reorganisation phase. tion increased actor diversity, the strength of rela- ● November 2013 – May 2015: Low system con- tionships between actors was relatively weak as nectedness coupled with low potential suggests many actors had not previously interacted with an Exploitation phase. one another. Connectedness therefore began to 2015 (?) − 2019: Although system potential is in decrease. this phase is low, we determined that this period The fourth period started around most likely corresponds with a second conserva- November 2013, when the UEIP was launched at tion phase. an event held in Durban. The attendance of the event by numerous actors and the signing of the The role of learning, power, agency, and structure MoU by the 16 founding partners suggests that in the different phases of transformation trust and commitment to the UEIP was high. Trust and commitment continued to increase as regular In the second part of the analysis, we identified dis- meetings commenced. Financial resources were tinct shifts in learning loops, power relations, agency, released to facilitate the start-up of the Partnership and structure during different phases of the transfor- with a full-time co-ordinator appointed in mation (Table 4). Evidence of these changes is May 2015. Although social capital was high, the included in Appendix F. In the following section, release of financial resources coupled with poor nat- we discuss these changes and the connections and ural capital was interpreted as reduced system interplay between them. These dynamics highlight potential. During this period, connectedness was the non-linear nature of the transformation and are low as the relationships between the diverse array illustrated in Figure 3. of actors were still in their early stages. We identified the final period between 2015 and Conservation phase (first) 2019. However, it was difficult to determine the tran- We found that the conservation phase was charac- sition point between this and the previous period. terised by strong institutional structure evident in the During this time, social capital declined as commit- hierarchical mode of governance. For example, in line ment to the UEIP waned (with DWS, eThekwini, with South Africa’s 1996 Constitution (RSA 1996), spe- Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu municipalities nota- cific organs of State including DWS, and provincial and bly absent as signatories at the resigning of the local government departments, were mandated to Memorandum of Understanding in May 2020). This develop legislative and other measures to achieve the 10 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Table 3. Summary of the assessment of social, financial, and natural capital, and their links to potential and connectedness, used to map the evolution of the UEIP onto the adaptive cycle. Capitals Phases of the Time periods Social Financial Natural Potential Connectedness adaptive cycle ● ● ● Pre-2009 Variable levels of trust in Accumulation of financial capital as capital and Natural capital in good state (relative to High High Conservation st ● ● local government reserves increase at Umgeni Water other times in the transformation) High trust Low actor diversity with reg- (1 ) Stored financial ular interaction capital Reductionist approach to High natural management capital ● ● ● 2009 – July 2012 Declining trust in local Release of financial capital and shift towards Declining state of natural capital Low High Release government financial threshold at Umgeni Water Low actor diversity with reg- Low trust ular interaction Released financial Reductionist approach to capital management Declining natural capital ● ● ● September 2012 – Increasing commitment Accumulation of financial capital as funds from Declining state of natural capital High Low Reorganisation October 2013 to UEIP various actors committed to UEIP Increasing Increasing actor diversity commitment with limited interaction Increasing finan- Systemic approach to man- cial capital agement adopted Declining natural capital ● ● November 2013 – Increasing commitment Release of financial capital from various actors Declining state of natural capital Low Low Exploitation May 2015? to UEIP including SANBI for start-up of UEIP ● ● Increasing Increasing actor diversity commitment with limited interaction ● ● Released financial Systemic approach to man- capital. agement implemented Declining natural capital ● ● ● 2015 (?) − 2019 Decreasing commitment UEIP struggles to accumulate financial capital Declining state of natural capital Low High Conservation nd to UEIP (2 ) ● ● Decreasing Lower actor diversity with commitment regular interaction ● ● Limited stored Limited implementation of financial capital systemic approach Declining natural capital ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 11 Table 4. Summary of the dimensions of learning, power, agency, and structure identified in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Phase of adaptive cycle Learning Power Agency Structure st Conservation (1 ) ● Single-loop learning ● Strong institutional ● Limited individual agency ● Strong institutional power structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power Release ● Double-loop learning by key ● Weakening institutional ● Increasing individual agency ● Strong institutional individuals power structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power ● Emergence of protean power Reorganisation ● Double-loop learning by col- ● Weakening institutional ● Strategic agency ● Strong institutional lectives power structure ● Power through ideas ● Increasing relational ● Increasing agential structure power Exploitation ● Triple-loop learning ● Changing institutional ● Strategic agency ● Changing institutional power structure ● Power through ideas ● Increasing relational ● Increasing agential structure power nd Conservation (2 ) ● Single-loop learning ● Strong institutional ● Limited strategic and indivi- ● Strong institutional power dual agency structure ● Power over ideas ● Low relational structure ● Limited agential power realisation of the right of access to basic water supply the system for self-organisation and the prevalent struc- (Cameron 2014; SAHRC 2018) with few other actors ture of domination was maintained. involved in water management. We noted that this strong institutional structure (α2) reinforced institu- Release phase tional power (α1). For example, DWS, Umgeni Water We noted that the release phase was triggered by and eThekwini Municipality were identified as some of a movement of country-wide social protests, referred the most powerful organisations in the catchment at to by Alexander (2010) as the rebellion of the poor. this time, and controlled the distribution of water The established institutions and dominant discourses resources. The views of these dominant government were seen to have failed in meeting service delivery organisations to development processes, such as the expectations, resulting in declining control power application of engineering solutions to achieve the (K2). For example, the Water Reconciliation right to water, were deeply entrenched and alternative Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal discourses were largely excluded (Meissner and Turton Metropolitan Area (DWA 2009) showed that engi- 2003). This ‘power over ideas’(α3) is reflected in various neering solutions alone were unlikely to meet the policies and strategies such as the National Water growing demand for water. The social discontent at Conservation and Water Demand Management a national scale, coupled with water supply and Strategy (DWAF 2004) which focused almost entirely quality challenges in the catchment, was used to on engineering options. These documents highlight create a crisis narrative which was purported to single-loop learning in the form of improving existing require an organisational structure to correct. This practices (α6). For example, Umgeni Water continued led key actors in eThekwini Metropolitan plans to build new dams and implement water manage- Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Unit (EWS) ment programmes (UW 2007). Single-loop learning and Environmental Planning and Climate was reinforced by the lack of involvement of other Protection Department (EPCPD) to question con- actors (expressed as low relational structure (α4)). ventional approaches to water management, signal- This limited the diversity of views and prevented access ling double-loop learning (K1). These actors began to new information and experiences. Strong institu- to reframe existing assumptions (that engineering tional structure also limited agency (α7) and agential solutions were the only option) which facilitated power (α5) and together with single-loop learning and changes in underlying mental models. The changing the lack of new ideas, reinforced ideational power as context also permitted the introduction of the novel power-over ideas and the notion that engineering solu- idea of restoring and maintaining ecosystems or tions were the only available solution. Initially, there ‘ecological infrastructure’ to address water quantity was acceptance of the dominant institutions and dis- and quality concerns (Zunckel 2013; Hordijk et al. courses. Together, these factors reduced the capacity of 2014; Sutherland and Roberts 2014; Manual et al. 12 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. K2: Weakening α1: Strong institutional institutional power power Strong α2: Strong α3: Ideational Ideational institutional institutional power (power power (power structure structure over ideas) over ideas) Limited α4: Low α5: Limited Low relational agential relational agential structure power K4: structure power Protean α6: Single- K1 Double- Power loop learning loop learning α7: Limited K3: Increasing individual individual agency agency Release (K) Conservation (α) Weakening Ω4: Changing institutional institutional power power Strong R5: Ideational Ω3: Ideational Ω5: Changing institutional power (power power (power institutional structure through ideas) through ideas) structure R1: Increasing Increasing Increasing R2: Increasing agential agential relational relational power power structure structure R4: Collective Ω1: Triple- double-loop loop learning learning Ω2: Strategic R3: Strategic agency agency Exploitation (Ω) Reorganisation (R) Figure 3. The interaction of different dimensions of learning, power, agency, and structure in each phase of the adaptive cycle. Red text indicates critical processes; the hatched background denotes changing contexts. 2016; Gale 2020). This solution was offered by (Rowlands et al. 2013). They were also highly influential SANBI, an influential actor who was based outside and connected into national and global networks. Thus, of the uMngeni water management system pre-2009. these actors occupied strategic positions in the network The interaction of weakening control power and the and utilised these structures to promote the concept of changing context gave rise to protean power (K4), as ecological infrastructure. These actors also used their key actors at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality agential power to mobilise other actors and in so doing began to respond to the uncertain context and seek altered the relational structure (R2). The change in innovative solutions. Double-loop learning coupled structure was particularly evident in the formation of with emerging protean power contributed to the an informal actor group, which included the four initial release of the system from the conservation phase. partners (eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, SANBI, KwaZulu-Natal DWS and Umgeni Water) and was later expanded to include World Wildlife Reorganisation phase Fund South Africa (WWF-SA), the Duzi uMngeni During the re-organisation phase, those actors with Conservation Trust (DUCT), uMgungundlovu protean power also held agential power (R1). Agential District Municipality (UMDM), Msunduzi power can be seen in the ability of key actors to utilise Municipality and the Wildlife and Environment structures to promote certain interests. In the uMngeni Society (WESSA). The informal actor group displayed catchment, the key actors who held agential power were collective double-loop learning (R4) which was evident both top-level managers with formal levels of authority in their mobilization around the central idea of ecolo- at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, one of the gical infrastructure and the co-design of pilot projects most powerful organisations in the catchment ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 13 to showcase the benefits of ecosystem restoration. deteriorating water quality and water security chal- Importantly, the emergence, actions and learning of lenges in the uMngeni catchment (which shaped the the informal actor group enabled a shift towards stra- context) continued (see, for example, Sutherland et al. tegic agency (R3). Strategic agency is a critical ingredi- 2019). This phase exhibited similar dynamics to that ent for re-organisation of the system. As actors worked of the conservation phase in the first iteration of the together to secure resources and support for the ecolo- cycle. Although the institutional structure had shifted gical infrastructure concept, they persuaded others to to a more hybrid mode of governance, the UEIP as accept these new ideas and shifted ideational power a structure within the broader system, encountered from power-over ideas to power-through ideas (R5). several challenges (α2). By May 2020, the number of As a result, the UEIP, which was better able to accom- individuals attending the UEIP meetings had modate these new ideas, began to emerge. declined substantially, signalling a decrease in rela- tional structure across the system (α4). This signifi- cantly constrained strategic agency (α2) as several of Exploitation phase the most powerful organisations in the catchment During the exploitation phase, ‘power through ideas’ (including DWS, eThekwini, Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu municipalities) were notably absent (Ω3) influenced institutional power (Ω4) as multiple ideas were able to co-exist. This in turn influenced as signatories in the re-signing of the MoU in 2020. institutional structure (Ω5), as hybrid governance The reasons for not re-signing remain unclear, formations were enabled. This was evident in the although it may be that they were no longer inter- official launch of the UEIP in Durban in ested in going forward with the collaboration, or in November 2013. However, the informal actor group eThekwini’s case, that they possibly decided to pursue held power in deciding who could participate in the their own investments in ecological infrastructure. process, as well as influencing the discourse, direction Nonetheless, the lack of involvement of these power- and functioning of the UEIP, while SANBI held ful actors likely contributed to the stalling of colla- power in controlling the appointment of the new borative governance efforts. We also noted that learning (α2) was constrained. During this time, the UEIP co-ordinator. The UEIP provided a new struc- ture and space for collective learning. Through this experimental pilot projects were well underway and platform, a diverse array of actors were able to share provided examples of a learning-by-doing approach. However, we found that knowledge and experience their values and ideals, engage in the experimental pilot projects and critically reflect on their mental gained from these projects did not translate into models and worldviews. The UEIP itself can therefore changes in practices across the catchment more be categorised as an example of triple-loop learning broadly. There were also no major structural changes (Ω1). There were also signs of limited triple loop in rules and actor networks in the overall uMngeni learning beyond the system. For example, several system. For example, although the UEIP was consid- key actors (including representatives from SANBI) ered a leading voice in the development of the catch- worked hard to ensure that the UEIP featured as ment management strategy (which spans several a pilot project in the President’s Strategic Integrated catchments including the uMngeni), the concept of Project Plan (under Strategic Infrastructure Project ecological infrastructure did not actually feature in the document. It does, however, address broader #19 [SIP19]) (Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs 2014), aimed at fast tracking economic devel- catchment management issues as they relate to opment and growth, which was presented to Cabinet impacts on water resources. These examples provide evidence of single-loop learning, which likely in October 2014. Although ‘SIP19’ was later aban- doned, the concept of ecological infrastructure was enhanced ideational power (α3), and reinforced included in the second edition of the National Water both institutional power (α1) and structure, thereby Resource Strategy for South Africa (DWA 2013). This bringing stability to the system. collective effort also showcases the shared values and interests of the UEIP and provides an example of strategic agency. Although a full-time co-ordinator Discussion was appointed during this phase, her individual agency and power was constrained as she was new The aim of this study was to investigate the key social to the catchment with limited networks. She also processes that characterise transformative potential at played more of an administrative rather than different stages in the change process in order to a decision-making role. strengthen our analytical understanding of transfor- mation. We used the adaptive cycle to describe the Conservation phase (second) different phases of change, and then illuminated the The second conservation phase commenced around connections and feedbacks between different facets of mid-2015. During this phase, the crisis narrative of learning, power, agency, and structure over time. This 14 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. allowed us to identify the key dynamics that drive 2015; Leach et al. 2018; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. 2020). different phases of transformative change. We also found that an uncertain context was impor- tant for triggering the transformation. This reinforces a similar finding by other scholars (see, for example, Insights into the social dynamics of different Olsson et al. 2004; Westley et al. 2013; Chaffin et al. phases of change 2014; Johannessen et al. 2018). The importance of Our work adds to the existing body of work on context is possibly best expressed by Dorado (2005) transformation in two ways. Firstly, we highlight lin- who notes that institutional change is contingent on kages between social processes and their role in trans- the likelihood that a context will allow actors to both formation which are currently under-reported in the introduce novel ideas and enable the mobilization of literature (e.g. protean power), and secondly, we pro- resources to support them. Building on this work, vide a more holistic picture of the relationships and Westley et al. (2013) linked shifting contexts to phases of the adaptive cycle and noted how such feedbacks which surface at different times during the transformation process. changes permitted the introduction of new ideas dur- Our analysis revealed that the conservation phase ing the release phase. Our analysis revealed similar results, but also highlights how the changing context was characterised by strong control and institutional power as dominant actors sought to control the allowed for double-loop learning in which key actors environment to meet their own ends. This was rein- began to question whether they were doing the right forced through legislated mandates and institutional things, reframed existing assumptions and reviewed structures. Dominant actors exhibited control over their underlying mental models. Individuals also ideas (a form of ideational power) which reinforced questioned underlying rules, meanings and authority their control power. Strong institutional power also which led to weakened control power and instability enabled them to control who was involved in the of the system. This confirms observations in the decision-making process thereby limiting relational literature that a crisis or changing context, may trig- structure and agential power. This in turn prevented ger critical reflections and a change in understanding of perceived risks (Biggs et al. 2010; Olsson et al. the introduction of new ideas which further embedded single-loop learning. Single-loop learning 2010; Westley et al. 2013; Johannessen et al. 2018). coupled with limited individual agency reinforced Our findings agree with Legro (2000) who argues that a shift in ideas of individuals is one of the first steps ideational and control power. Acceptance of these structures and ideas brought stability to the system in changing ideational power. and prevented it from shifting to an alternatively We found that protean power was central to the configured state. This finding confirms work by release phase and emerged during a time of uncer- other scholars who have long argued that institu- tainty. Protean power arose as the agency of key tional structures and arrangements influence rela- actors increased in response to the altered context tional structure and control power by limiting who and they began to search for solutions to local pro- can meaningfully participate in debates, planning and blems. The new context coupled with weakened insti- decision-making processes (Fox 1976; Schafft and tutional power (a form of control power) permitted Brown 2003; Barnett and Duvall 2005). Less explored, the introduction of new ideas and solutions (in our case from outside of the system). We found that the however, are the connections between power and learning. In a study on the transformation of two implementation of these ideas and the effects of the urban centres in Mexico, Pelling and Manuel- actions (of those with protean power) on others and the system, were largely unpredictable. These findings Navarrete (2011) found that social learning was con- strained by dominant structures created for centraliz- again confirm the importance of context in transfor- ing power. Medema et al. (2014) and Johannessen mation but further flag its interplay with different et al. (2018) also argue that social learning is con- types of power. Similar findings have emerged else- strained by powerful structures and dynamics, while where in the literature. For example, Katzenstein and Mostert et al. (2007) noted that a balance of power Seybert (2018) argue that the fall of the Berlin wall was a pre-requisite for social learning. Our study adds was underpinned by a combination of failing diplo- matic and control power, and the actualization of to this work by providing a finer distinction between the types of power and learning that emerge at dif- protean power. They suggest that control power and ferent times in the transformation process. protean power often co-evolve and co-exist, and it is the confluence of these two types of power that Our results also surfaced the importance of cross- scale dynamics and context in the transformation. enables transformation. However, the importance of Similar to other scholars, we found that the crisis protean power in transformations generally, but in social-ecological transformations specifically, is occurred at a broad scale but triggered a transformative process at a local scale (Cash et al. under-explored in the literature, and should form 2006; Olsson et al. 2006, 2014; Beier et al. 2009; Tai a critical line of enquiry in the future. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 15 Our analysis showed that during the re- Our results point to limited structural change organisation phase, agents who held protean power facilitated by weakened control power and triple- also held agential power. This power was essential in loop learning, during the exploitation phase. The mobilising other actors in support of the innovation formation of the UEIP itself provides some evidence and resulted in the emergence of an informal actor of triple-loop learning. This finding supports claims group or shadow network. The formation of the by Johannessen et al. (2018) that the formation of shadow network in turn, shifted relational structure a governance structure that supports intersectoral and enabled strategic agency. Strategic agency is communication and cooperation between different important as it allows actors to define shared values actors can facilitate triple-loop learning and the trans- and decide on a particular course of action (Westley formation of water governance systems. They docu- et al. 2013). The formation of shadow networks ment how the establishment of shared learning during transformation has been recognized by sev- dialogues in Gorakhpur gradually changed the nature eral other scholars, although few have noted the role of relationships both within communities and exter- of power in the emergence of these networks (see, nal institutions, and also demonstrated how cross- for example, Olsson et al. 2006, 2014; Gelcich et al. sectoral dialogue in Kristianstad led to risk managers 2010; Westley et al. 2013; Herrfahrdt-Pähle et al. re-evaluating the value of wetlands. In the uMngeni, 2020). They highlight that shadow networks are however, we found no evidence of major structural critical in preparing a system for change by explor- changes in rules and actor networks in the overall ing alternative system configurations, providing catchment. This calls into question the extent of the novel ideas, and developing strategies for alternative transformation. We suggest that the ability to trans- futures. form the wider governance system was jeopardised by We found that during the reorganisation phase, single-loop learning, which was evident in a failure to the informal actor group worked strategically to per- translate the knowledge and experience gained suade others through cognitive and normative argu- through learning processes into changes in practices ments about the validity of their ideas. They more broadly across the catchment. employed a variety of strategies including the con- ception of pilot projects, which were used to draw in Reflections on the use of the adaptive cycle and different actors and unify them around the central the four social processes idea of ecological infrastructure. These findings con- cur with Westley et al. (2013) who noted that pilot or Although we found the adaptive cycle helpful for umbrella projects were used to create a bundle of identifying distinct phases of change, we encountered knowledge that were sufficiently open-ended to challenges in quantitatively assessing dimensions of attract a diversity of actors and allow them to work potential and connectedness. This was partly because collaboratively together. Our results further suggest social, economic and ecological capitals were concep- that the co-design of these pilot projects enabled tualised at different scales over the period of the collective double-loop learning, in which actors transformation. In addition, some criteria were diffi- began to re-evaluate their initial assumptions. cult to quantify and relied on a thorough understand- Similar examples of double-loop learning have been ing of the case study. Other scholars also reported reported in other collaborative contexts. For example, difficulties in assessing the properties of potential and Johannessen et al. (2018) found that a collaboration connectedness (see Abel et al. 2006; Daedlow et al. between individuals from the Kristianstad municipal- 2011; Salvia and Quaranta 2015) and noted that the ity and other local and national actors, led to changes assessment could be skewed depending on who was in both perceptions and measures about floodlines. involved in the process. Importantly, in our case study, the uptake of these We found the multi-faceted processes of learning, ideas resulted in a gradual shift in ideational power, power, agency and structure helpful for elucidating from ‘power over ideas’ to ‘power through ideas’ the dynamics of change, thereby enhancing our ana- which in turn affected control power. As the system lytical understanding of the broader transformation reorganised, new organisations began to emerge. This puzzle. In summary, we found that power shifted finding supports Legro (2000) who reasons that idea- from ‘power over ideas’ in the conservation and tional change is a two-step process that involves release phases, to ‘power through ideas’ in the reor- collapse and consolidation. Collapse occurs when ganisation and exploitation phases. Protean power actors reach agreement that old beliefs are inadequate also emerged as a key ingredient for change during while consolidation requires social coordination on the exploitation phase. We identified similar shifts in a replacement set of ideas (Legro 2000). Both steps learning and agency. The conservation phase was involve collective ideation problems, which we found characterised by single-loop learning which shifted were solved through strategic agency of the informal to double-loop learning initially by individuals in actor group. the release phase, and then by collectives in the 16 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. reorganisation phase, while triple-loop learning sur- linkages and feedbacks may lock a system into faced in the exploitation phase. Linked to learning, an undesirable state. we found that individual agency was limited during (2) A political, social, or environmental shock may the conservation phase but increased during the trigger a shift from the conservation to the release phase and shifted to strategic agency in the release phase. This change in context weakens reorganisation and exploitation phases. These control power, permits the introduction of new changes were influenced by, and facilitated, changes ideas, and sparks double-loop learning as key in relational and institutional structures. During the actors start to question their underlying conservation phase, there was strong institutional but assumptions. Importantly, the changing condi- low relational structure while during the exploitation tions create uncertainty which gives rise to pro- phase a more hybrid mode of governance was tean power – a critical ingredient for change. enabled, and relational structure increased. (3) The emergence of protean power enhances These results confirm work by other scholars on the agential power of key actors, who begin to relationships between some social processes, for example mobilise other actors and resources in a rapid between power and learning (see, for example, Pelling phase of reorganisation. In so doing, they alter and Manuel-Navarrete 2011; Medema et al. 2014; relational structure and enable strategic agency Johannessen et al. 2018) and between structure and through the creation of an informal actor power (see, for example, Fox 1976; Schafft and Brown group. Together, these actors engage in collec- 2003; Barnett and Duvall 2005). Our results also contri- tive double-loop learning resulting in bute to the structure-agency debate and lend support to a gradual shift in ideational power from Giddens (1984) theory of the duality of structure where ‘power over ideas’ to ‘power through ideas’. individuals are simultaneously constrained and empow- (4) The exploitation phase is characterised by tri- ered by existing social structure. We also concur with ple-loop learning that involves shifts in under- Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete (2011) who suggest that lying norms and values. Triple-loop learning power is the outcome of the interaction between indivi- may be enabled through the formation of new dual agency and structure. However, our results indicate collaborative institutions that are better able to that while this power is associated with agential power, accommodate innovative ideas and provide other forms of power may simultaneously exist with trusted platforms that encourage participation, varying effects on the transformation process. In line integration, and learning. However, structural with other scholars, we also surfaced how different changes to the broader system may be con- types of social processes contribute to transformation, strained by failure to translate knowledge such as the importance of triple-loop learning (see, for gained through learning processes into example, Johannessen et al. 2018) and the role of protean changes in practice more widely. power (see, for example, Katzenstein and Seybert 2018). We contend that the emergence of different types of learning, power, agency and structure, such as those identified in this article, are essential for transformation. Conclusion This understanding may help to inform actions that steer transformations away from less desired trajectories and Our study strengthens our analytical understanding of lock-in’s, towards more sustainable and collaborative transformation and highlights the social processes water governance in South Africa and elsewhere. underlying the change process. We used the adaptive cycle to define phases of change and then identified how learning, power, agency, and structure vary and Note influence the different phases of transformation. Our 1. Umgeni Water financial data was only available from 2003. findings suggest that the shift in water governance in the uMngeni catchment to a new configuration of colla- boration, represents a transformation. In summary, we Acknowledgment found the following in our case study, which we think We wish to acknowledge the Human Sciences Research may hold in other contexts: Council and Umgeni Water for the use of data referred to in this article. We are also grateful to the reviewers for (1) During the conservation phase of the adaptive providing constructive comments on the earlier draft of the cycle, strong control power and institutional manuscript. structure often limit relational structure and the introduction of new ideas, which reinforces Disclosure statement single-loop learning. Acceptance of these struc- tures and ideas brings stability to the system Nadia Sitas is an Editorial Board Member for Ecosystems and prevents it from shifting to an alternatively and People but was blinded from the peer-review process configured state. In some instances, these for this paper. ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 17 Carstensen MB, Schmidt VA. 2016. Power through, over Funding and in ideas: conceptualizing ideational power in dis- C.P. and R.B. received support from the South African cursive institutionalism. J Eur Public Policy. 23 Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the Department of (3):318–337. doi:10.1080/13501763.2015.1115534. Science and Technology and National Research Foundation Cash DW, Adger WN, Berkes F, Garden P, Lebel L, of South Africa (grant 98766). C.P. also received support from Olsson P, Pritchard L, Young O. 2006. Scale and the Lloyds Register Foundation via the International Water cross-scale dynamics: governance and information in Security Project. a multilevel world. Ecol Soc. 11(2):8. http://www.ecolo gyandsociety.org/vol11/iss2/art8/ Chaffin B, Gosnell H, Cosens B. 2014. A decade of adaptive ORCID governance scholarship: synthesis and future directions. Ecol Soc. 19(3):56. doi:10.5751/ES-06824-190356. Reinette Biggs http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0300-4149 Costanza R, Daly HE. 1992. Natural capital and sustainable development. Conserv Biol. 6(1):37–46. doi:10.1046/j. 1523-1739.1992.610037.x. Costanza R, d’Arge R, de Groot RS, Farber S, Grasso M, References Hannon B, Limburg K, Naeem S, O’Neill RV, Paruelo J, et al. 1997. 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Description of key organisations who have participated in the UEIP Actor name Acronym Description South African National SANBI The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is an organisation established in terms Biodiversity Institute of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, No 10 of 2004, under the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. SANBI is tasked with research and dissemination of information on biodiversity and is legally mandated to contribute to the management of South Africa’s biodiversity resources. Although SANBI has its headquarters in Pretoria, it still has a strong influence on ecological infrastructure in the uMngeni catchment. eThekwini Metropolitan - eThekwini Municipality is a metropolitan municipality that is responsible for all local services, Municipality development and delivery in the metropolitan area of eThekwini. eThekwini is one of 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal, and includes the city of Durban and surrounding areas. eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is by far the largest water user in the uMngeni catchment. It also has a very active Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) and Water and Sanitation Unit. Department of Water and DWS The Department of Water and Sanitation is a national department and the custodian of South Sanitation Africa’s water resources. It is primarily responsible for the formulation and implementation of policy governing the water sector. KwaZulu-Natal Department of KZN DWS Many of the policies and regulations of the National DWS are implemented through its 9 Water and Sanitation regional offices, including the regional office in KwaZulu-Natal. The KwaZulu-Natal DWS office is responsible for developments, projects and programmes within the Pongola to uMzimkulu Water Management Area. Umgeni Water - Umgeni Water is a state-owned entity and provides water services (bulk potable/drinking water and sanitation services) to water services authorities (municipalities) in KwaZulu-Natal. These include eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Msunduzi Local Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality, amongst others. Wildlife and Environment Society WESSA WESSA is a non-governmental environmental organisation in South Africa which focuses on of South Africa environmental education and capacity building. The organisation has been active in the uMngeni catchment for a long time and has engaged in various projects that support environmental sustainability and ecosystem integrity. uMgungundlovu District UMDM uMgungundlovu is one of 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal and incorporates 7 local municipalities Municipality including Msunduzi. The purpose of the District Municipalities is to share the responsibility for all local services, development and delivery with local municipalities in their district, to ensure that all communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, have equal access to resources and services. The uMngeni River and its tributaries flow through almost all the Local Municipalities within the UMDM. Msunduzi Local Municipality - Msunduzi Local Municipality is one of 43 local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and encompasses the city of Pietermaritzburg, the capital city of KwaZulu Natal and the economic hub of the uMgungundlovu District. The Msunduzi Local Municipality shares the responsibility for all local services, development and delivery with the uMgungundlovu District Municipality. However, Msunduzi Local Municipality often functions quite independently largely because of its substantial annual budget (which is four times higher than the District’s) and large revenue streams which it generates through rates and the sale of electricity. World Wildlife Fund – South WWF-SA The World Wildlife Fund – South Africa is one of the largest independent conservation and Africa environment organisations in South Africa. Within the uMngeni catchment, the organisation plays an active role in funding various projects that support ecological infrastructure. Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust DUCT DUCT is a non-profit public benefit organisation based in Pietermaritzburg that champions the health of the uMngeni and Msunduzi Rivers. Appendix B. Documents consulted during the analysis A2.1. UEIP Documents Document Name Date Water security and service delivery through investments in natural infrastructure 27 September 2012 in the greater uMngeni catchment: Concept Note The Greater uMngeni Water Security Partnership (a discussion document to provide SANBI and eThekwini EPCPD with a basis 30 November 2012 upon which to plan for and arrange a key stakeholder workshop on the above scheduled for the end of February 2013). Joint Media Release, 28 February 2013, New solutions explored for water security and service delivery investments in ecological 28 February 2013 infrastructure in the greater uMngeni catchment. Minutes of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting 29 April 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting, Minute Summary 29 April 2013 Minutes of the 2nd uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership – Strategy Meeting 5 August 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, The 2nd Partners Workshop − 10 October 2013, Invitation letter. August 2013 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership Workshop, Proceedings of the 2nd UEIP Stakeholder Workshop held on 10 October 2013 10 October 2013 at KZN-Wildlife Head Office, Queen Elizabeth Park. The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Memorandum of Understanding, V3 18 November 2013 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Progress Report, November 2013 – March 2014 March 2014 UEIP List of signatories: Annexure A: Contact details and information exchange June 2014 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 19 November 2014 Terms of Reference, Research Sub-Committee of the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), V4 19 November 2014 uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership summary, 2015 n.d. The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership, Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 15 April 2015 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), An Overview of Progress, September 2015 September 2015 (Continued ) 22 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. (Continued). Document Name Date Proceedings from the National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) and the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Programme 1 October 2015 (UEIP): Investment in Ecological Infrastructure – the relevance for business, South African Sugar Association The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), A strategy July 2016 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 15 November 2016 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), presentation given by Dr Pearl Gola (co-ordinator of the UEIP) at the 17 March 2017 KZN Biodiversity and Business Indaba The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Annual Progress Report 2016– 2017 May 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 19 May 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 14 November 2017 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 5 June 2018 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 23 May 2019 The uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership (UEIP), Research Sub-Committee Meeting, Draft Minutes. 11 November 2019 A2.2. Documents obtained from Google Scholar search Chu, E., I. Anguelovski, and D. Roberts. 2017. Climate adaptation as strategic urbanism: assessing opportunities and uncertainties for equity and inclusive development in cities. Cities 60: 378–87. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2016.10.016 Cobinnah, P. B., and M. Addaney, eds. 2019. The geography of climate change adaptation in urban Africa. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Culwick, C. 2019. Introduction and overview. In Towards applying a green infrastructure approach in the Gauteng City- Region, ed. C. Culwick, and S. Khanyile. Johannesburg: Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO). Douwes, J. 2018. Exploring transformation in local government in a time of environmental change and thresholds: a case study of eThekwini Municipality. MSocSci thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College campus. Gale, M. 2020. Water governance in South Africa: capacity development in river basin management. Master’s thesis. Utrecht University, Netherlands. Hordijk, M., L. M. Sara, and C. Sutherland. 2014. Resilience, transition or transformation? A comparative analysis of changing water governance systems in four southern cities. Environment and Urbanization 26(1): 1–17. doi: 10.1177/0956247813519044. Hughes, C.J. 2018. Degradation of ecological infrastructure and its rehabilitation for improved water security. PhD thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. Hulme, D., M. Roy, M. Hordijk, and S. Cawood. 2016. Conclusion: reconceptualising adaptation and comparing experi- ences. In Urban poverty and climate change: life in the slums of Asia, Africa and Latin America, ed. M. Roy, S. Cawood, M. Hordijk, and D. Hulme. 257–265. London, UK: Routledge. Jewitt, G.P.W., C. Sutherland, M. Browne, S. Stuart-Hill, S. Risko, P. Martel, J. Taylor, and M. Varghese. 2020. Enhancing water security through restoration and maintenance of ecological infrastructure: lessons from the uMngeni River Catchment, South Africa. Report TT 815/20, Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Manuel, J., K. Maze, M. Driver, A. Stephens, E. Botts, A. Parker, M. Tau, J. Dini, S. Holness, and J. Nel. 2016. Key ingredients, challenges and lessons from biodiversity mainstreaming in South Africa: people, products, process. OECD Environment Working Papers no. 107, OECD Environment Directorate, Paris.doi.org/10.1787/5jlzgj1s4h5h-en Meissner, R. 2021. eThekwini’s green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape: towards a deeper understanding. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute). 2020. Biodiversity mainstreaming and policy advice assessment: an initial assessment of SANBI’s biodiversity mainstreaming history towards an evaluation of its achievements, effectiveness and lessons learnt. The living catchment’s project (2019–2023). Report for Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Sutherland, C., G. Jewitt, S. Risko, P. Martel, M. Varghese, S. Stuart-Hill, D. Hay, M. Brown, J. Taylor, C. Buckley, et al. 2019. Demonstration of how healthy ecological infrastructure can be utilized to secure water for the benefit of society and the green economy through a programmatic research approach based on selected landscapes. Report on Project K5/2354, Water Research Commission, Pretoria. Sutherland, C., and B. Mazeka. 2019. Ecosystem services in South Africa. In The Geography of South Africa: contemporary changes and new directions, ed. J. Knight, and C. Rogerson, 71–80. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Sutherland, C., B. Mazeka, S. Buthelezi, D. Khumalo, and P. Martel. 2019. Making informal settlements ‘visible’ through datafication: a case study of Quarry Road West Informal Settlement, Durban, South Africa. Paper no. 83, Centre for Development Informatics, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK. Swilling, M., J.K. Musango, and J. Wakeford, eds. 2016. Greening the South African economy: scoping the issues, challenges and opportunities. Cape Town: UCT Press. Vogel, C., D. Scott, C. E. Culwick, and C. Sutherland. 2016. Environmental problem-solving in South Africa: harnessing creative imaginaries to address ‘wicked’ challenges and opportunities. South African Geographical Journal 98(3): 515–530. doi:10.1080/03736245.2016.1217256 ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 23 A2.3. Additional literature consulted during the analysis Alexander, P. 2010. Rebellion of the poor. South Africa’s service delivery protests – a preliminary analysis. Review of African Political Economy 37(123): 25–40. DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) and SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute). 2011. Making the case for biodiversity: Final draft Project Summary Report, Department of Environmental Affairs and South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. DWA (Department of Water Affairs). 2009. Water reconciliation strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal coastal metropolitan areas. Department of Water Affairs, Pretoria. eThekwini Municipality. 2011. Ethekwini Municipality Integrated Development Plan 2011–2016. eThekwini Municipality, South Africa. Shezi, L. 2013. Service delivery protests as a catalyst for development: the case of eThekwini Municipality. MSc Thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Sutherland, C., D. Roberts, and J. Douwes. 2019. Constructing resilience at three scales: the 100 Resilient Cities Programme, Durban’s resilience journey and water resilience in the Palmiet catchment. Human Geography 12(1):33–49. https://doi.org/ 10.1177/194277861901200103 Zunckel, K. 2013. Supply chain management for PES in the Upper uThukela and Umzimvubu catchments: investments into ecological infrastructure in the Greater uMngeni River catchment. Unpublished Report, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Appendix C. Criteria, linked to capitals, used to determine system potential Capital Criterion Justification Application in our study Data source Social Trust and commitment Trust and social capital are mutually Assessed at catchment & ● Human Sciences Research capital reinforcing, with social capital organisational level. Council (HSRC) Evaluation of enabling trusting relationships ● Catchment: we used trust in local Public Opinion Programme that in turn produce social capital government as a reflection of (EPOP) 1998–2001 and the HSRC (Putnam 2000; Fu 2004; Myeong trust in other tiers of government South African Social Attitudes and Seo 2016). Trust and mandated to manage water Survey 2003–2018. commitment are regarded as two resources in uMngeni catchment. ● Document analysis together with key attributes of relational capital Organisational: we inferred the collective experience in and are suggested as a proxy for level of ‘trust and commitment’ in Partnership. potential (Nkhata et al. 2008; UEIP Tadesse and Kassie 2017) Natural Extent of remaining Ecosystems in good condition are Change in natural land cover National Land Cover data 2000 & capital natural ecosystems generally regarded as having categories between current and KwaZulu-Natal Land Cover 2008, a higher potential to deliver historic land cover data for the 2013 (adapted from Namugize important ecosystem services uMngeni catchment et al. 2018) (Grizzetti et al. 2019). Quality of water in We used long-term data sets of ● Laboratory Information river systems in the Escherichia coli (E-coli) counts, as Management System data catchment this is a reliable indicator of extract of routine Umgeni Water drinking water quality and is River sampling site data (2000– regularly monitored at multiple 2019). sites in the catchment. Financial Capital and reserves The loss or accumulation of financial We assessed financial capital at ● Financial statements in Umgeni capital available for water capital (or access to money) is a catchment & organisational level Water Annual Reports 2003 to resource considered by other scholars an as follows: 2019 management important criterion in defining Document analysis together with ● Catchment: We used changes in phases of the adaptive cycle and has collective experience in gross profit margin ratio (a finan- been applied in other cases (see for Partnership. cial metric that compares the example Abel et al. 2006). In our gross margin of a business to the case study, water resource net sales) of Umgeni Water as an management is funded through indicator of the accumulation or budget allocations to DWS, Umgeni release of financial resources. Water and municipalities. Other Organisational: we assessed the sectors such as agriculture, level of resources allocated to the environment, energy, and industry UEIP and its activities. also play a role but do not explicitly receive funds for water resource management. The scope of our assessment was limited as there is currently no water-related government function with its own finances (independent of national government) operating at a provincial scale (the regional office of DWS in KwaZulu-Natal is an extension of the National DWS). 24 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Appendix D. Summary of significant events and milestones in the formation of the UEIP, aligned with phases of the adaptive cycle Date Event Outcomes Reference* st Conservation phase 1 Pre-2009 In the uMngeni catchment, management of water Reductionist approach to water resource Manual et al. 2016; resources dominated by formally mandated management with little to no involvement of Gale 2020. institutions including Department of Water stakeholder or actor groups. Affairs and Water Services Authorities with little involvement of other actor groups. Management adopted a reductionist approach and only focused on engineering solutions. Release phase 2009 Reconciliation Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Supply/demand challenges in the catchment DWA 2009; Coastal Metropolitan Area Water Supply System highlighted and series of technocratic solutions Zunckel 2013. finalized. proposed. 2009 and 2010 Numerous service delivery protests in eThekwini Social discontent making managers more Alexander 2010; Metropolitan Municipality and across South receptive to alternative solutions to meet Shezi 2013. Africa. service delivery mandates. 2011 SANBI explores Payment for Ecosystem Services Innovative approach to water resources DEA and SANBI 2011; approaches and introduces concept of ‘natural management emerges. Zunckel 2013; infrastructure’. Swilling, Musango, and Wakeford 2016; Manual et al. 2016; Meissner 2021. 2011 eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality publish their Heightened awareness of deteriorating state of Ethekwini Municipality 2011. 2011/2012 Integrated Development Plan natural capital. highlighting the deteriorating state of natural resources. July 2012 Meeting between SANBI and the head of Recognition that engineering solutions alone Zunckel 2013; eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality’s were unlikely to address the problem. Manual et al. 2016. Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department EPCPD, followed by a meeting with SANBI, EPCPD and head of eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation Department. Reorganization phase September 2012 Concept note on natural infrastructure prepared First steps to mobilize other actors and leverage Zunckel 2013; to draw KZN DWA Regional and Umgeni Water resources. UEIP Concept note 2012. into the process. October 2012 - Series of engagements between SANBI, Formation of the initial informal actor group. Shift UEIP Discussion document January 2013 eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation Department from technocratic solutions to natural 2012. and Environmental Planning and Climate infrastructure as the latter added as an Protection Department, KZN DWA Regional and additional option for water delivery to the Umgeni Water. water reconciliation strategy. Preparation to mobilize additional and high-level actors. February 2013 First stakeholder workshop high-level inception Additional actors, synergies and knowledge gaps Zunckel 2013 workshop held in Pietermaritzburg and identified, and a common vision for attended by almost 80 people representing 35 a catchment wide partnership developed. organisations April 2013 First meeting of expanded informal actor group to Informal actor group expanded to include local UEIP Minutes 29 April 2013. discuss roles and responsibilities of core and provincial actors across scientific and partners [World Wildlife Fund South Africa management domains. Resources committed WWF-SA, Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust and significant effort by partners to leverage DUCT and the uMgungundlovu District more funds. Municipality UMDM added as additional partners]. August 2013 Second meeting of expanded informal actor Three Water Service Authorities eThekwini, UEIP Minutes 5 August 2013 group Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu committed to supporting pilot projects in their areas and SANBI and WWF commit funds to support the UEIP coordinator position. October 2013 Second stakeholder workshop held in Pilot projects to demonstrate benefits of UEIP Workshop proceedings Pietermaritzburg and attended by 55 ecological infrastructure identified. 10 October 2013; participants from a variety of organisations. Cobinnah and Addaney 2019. Exploitation phase November 2013 Launch of the UEIP at an event held in Durban Paradigm shift towards a more inclusive and UEIP Progress Report 2014; including a high-level dialogue on ecological systemic approach to managing resources Hordijk et al. 2014; infrastructure, the signing of the MoU by 16 Vogel et al. 2016 ; founding partners, and the launch of the pilot Chu, Anguelovski, and projects. Roberts 2017; Douwes 2018; Gale 2020. 2014 First meeting of the official UEIP UEIP officially established as a successful UEIP Minutes collaborative partnership with a diversity of November 2014. views and partners. (Continued ) ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 25 (Continued). Date Event Outcomes Reference* 2014–2015 Implementation of pilot projects begins Start of innovations to create shared knowledge UEIP Progress Report 2015; and meaning between different interest Sutherland, Jewitt et al. 2019; groups. Sutherland, Maseka et al. 2019; Cobinnah and Addaney 2019; Sutherland et al. 2019; Meissner 2021. May 2015 Full-time UEIP coordinator appointed and Funds released to support the coordinator UEIP Progress Report 2014; a coordinating committee and a research sub- position Sutherland, Jewitt, et al. committee, established. 2019. nd Conservation phase 2 2015 onwards Biannual meetings of UEIP held Regular meetings held which facilitated trust and UEIP Various minutes relationship building between actors within and beyond the catchment. July 2016 UEIP strategy document drafted which set out the Group consolidated around shared purpose and UEIP strategy 2016. purpose of the UEIP and provided direction to objectives. the partnership by defining the objectives of the UEIP and approaches towards achieving those objectives 2016 UEIP establishes an online presence and the The Partnership begins to share knowledge UEIP Progress Report 2017. activities and outputs of the work done under beyond the immediate group. the umbrella of the UEIP presented at several conferences and symposia March 2019 5-year celebrations of UEIP The UEIP is well established and has become a way of life. May 2020 Re-signing of the MoU by only 16 partners with Few organisations become dominant limiting DWS, eThekwini, Msunduzi and options for novelty and innovation. uMgungundlovu municipalities notably absent as signatories Note. Note that between 2016 and 2020 the UEIP continued to hold regular meetings although no other significant events were identified during this period other than those listed in the table. *Full references given in Appendix B. 26 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. Appendix E. Summary of data used to determine phases of the adaptive cycle Figure A1. 1. Trends in trust in local government (Data source: (2021a), 2021b). Figure 4.2. Trends in financial capital of Umgeni Water (Data source: Umgeni Water Annual Reports 2003 to 2019). Figure 4.3. Trend in land cover in the upper uMngeni catchment (adapted from Namugize et al. 2018 (Note that land cover data was only available to 2011). Figure 4.4. Percentage of river sampling sites in the Msunduzi municipal area of the uMngeni catchment with results >10000 E Coli/100 ml (Data source: (2021)). ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 27 Appendix F. Overview of criteria of learning, power, agency and structure in the uMngeni case study Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Learning Single, Single single-loop Individual double-loop Collective double loop Triple loop learning Single-loop learning double or learning with focus learning by key learning evident in evident in structural signalled by triple on improving actors in eThekwini mobilisation of the change as the UEIP limited change in loop existing water Municipality informal actor is formed, and the practices on the learning management reframe their group around the concept of ground. The practices such as existing assumption central idea of ecological ecological building dams (see that engineering ecological infrastructure is infrastructure examples in various solutions were the infrastructure and included in the concept also documents such as only option. the co-design of President’s Strategic doesn’t feature in Umgeni Water’s pilot projects. Integrated Project Catchment Annual Report Plan (under Management 2007). Strategic Strategy, although Infrastructure broader catchment Project #19 (SIP19)). management issues are considered as they relate to impacts on water resources. Power Control Strong control power Local and country- Control power UEIP seen as powerful Power of UEIP wanes power as DWS, Umgeni wide protests signal weakens as other structure and hailed as powerful actors Water and weakening control powerful non-state as a flagship (including DWS, eThekwini power as powerful actors are invited to collaborative eThekwini, Municipality organisations are participate in water governance Msunduzi and (regarded as some seen to have failed resources structure that could uMgungundlovu) of the most in delivery of water management such be transferred to absent as powerful (and other) services. as DUCT, WESSA other catchments signatories in the organisations in the However, the and civil society (See Sutherland and re-signing of the catchment) have full Regional (See Rowlands et al. Roberts 2014). MoU. These control over the Department of 2013). Power emerged organisations distribution of water Water and through the retain their strong in the catchment. Sanitation and involvement of control power. Umgeni Water still numerous partners hold power in (including powerful respect of the 2009 DWS, Umgeni Water Reconciliation and municipalities) Strategy, and and its location in through that could an economic influence licensing powerhouse. and allocation Agential Limited agential Limited agential Increasing agential Increasing agential Limited agential power power with no power with no power as key actors power as power as the examples of actors examples of actors used their positions representatives Partnership lacks using structures to using structures to to promote the from powerful political promote change. promote change. concept of organizations to champions in ecological promote the high-ranking infrastructure. For concept of positions and example, top-level ecological instead comprises managers at infrastructure. low-ranking eThekwini However, high officials. Municipality (one of ranking municipal the most powerful officials either organisations in the retired or catchment – see designated Rowlands et al. responsibilities to 2013) gave various less senior presentations and members. press releases on the benefits of ecological infrastructure. These actors had also been embedded in the system for a long time, had extensive networks and were internationally recognized. (Continued ) 28 C. B. PRINGLE ET AL. (Continued). Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Protean The innovative power solution of ecological infrastructure emerged during a time of uncertainty and risk (created by country wide protests, the story of the catchment running out of water (captured in the 2009 Reconciliation Strategy), deteriorating state of ecosystems, and looming local government elections) giving rise to protean power for those actors proposing the innovation. Ideational Through various Through policies and ‘Power through ideas’ ‘Power through ideas’ ‘Power over ideas’ as power policies and strategies, such as evident as key reflected as key SIP19 is strategies such as the Reconciliation actors (at DWS, actors (including abandoned. The the National Water Strategy for the Umgeni Water, both state and civil ecological Conservation and KwaZulu-Natal eThekwini society groups infrastructure Water Demand Coastal Municipality and represented in the concept is also Management Metropolitan Area SANBI) sought to UEIP) lobbied for excluded from the Strategy, DWS and Water Supply, DWS persuade others the inclusion of the Catchment Umgeni Water and Umgeni Water through technical ecological Management exerted control over continued to exert and scientific infrastructure Strategy although the idea that ‘power over the reasoning that concept in national the document engineering idea’ that ecological strategies such as does address solutions were the technocratic infrastructure was the President’s broader catchment only solution. solutions were the a feasible Strategic Integrated management preferred option. alternative solution. Project Plan (under issues, as they Strategic relate to impacts Infrastructure on water Project #19 (SIP19)). resources. The concept also featured in the National Water Resource Strategy 2. Agency Individual Limited individual and Two key individuals at Strategic agency Strategic agency is Limited strategic and/or strategic agency eThekwini evident as actors reflected in the agency evident as strategic with no examples of municipality were mobilised around shared values and commitment to agency key actions by critical in initiating the concept of interests of the UEIP the UEIP wanes skilled actors or processes linked to ecological and was further and the collective the launch of UEIP. infrastructure. They enhanced by the Partnership mobilisation around These actors were began to leverage pilot projects. struggles to adopt shared interests. highly educated and resources to A new UEIP co- a self-funding experienced promote their ordinator was model. SANBI is individuals who collective interest appointed but was fully financing the were internationally and committed new to the coordinator recognized. funds to train 200 catchment with position at this people in ecological relatively few point in time. infrastructure, to networks which appoint an external limited her coordinator for the individual agency. partnership, and to implement pilot projects. (Continued ) ECOSYSTEMS AND PEOPLE 29 (Continued). Component Facet Conservation (1st) Release Reorganisation Exploitation Conservation (2nd) Structure Institutional Institutional structure Institutional structure Institutional structure The launch of the UEIP Institutional structure structure characterised by continues to reflect starts to shift signals a hybrid continues to a hierarchical mode a hierarchical mode towards a hybrid governance mode reflect a hybrid of governance with of governance with governance mode which mediates mode of specific organs of water resource as independent between the governance. State including management actors begin to hierarchical and DWS, and provincial dominated by state organise themselves network governance and local organisations. into a self- styles. government constructed mandated to collaborative undertake water structure. management with few other actors involved. Relational Low relational Low relational Relational structure Increasing relational Decreasing relational structure structure as few structure as few increased with the structure as almost structure as actors involved in actors involved in formation of an 40 organisations commitment to water management water management informal actor commit to the UEIP the UEIP wanes group, which in November 2013. with DWS, included four initial eThekwini, partners (eThekwini Msunduzi and Metropolitan uMgungundlovu Municipality, SANBI, municipalities KwaZulu-Natal DWS notably absent as and Umgeni Water) signatories in the and was later resigning of the expanded to include Memorandum of World Wildlife Fund Understanding. South Africa (WWF- SA), the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT), uMgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM), Msunduzi Municipality and the Wildlife and Environment Society (WESSA).

Journal

Ecosystems and PeopleTaylor & Francis

Published: Dec 31, 2023

Keywords: Matthew Weaver; Transformation; adaptive cycle; learning; power, agency; structure; collaborative water governance; uMngeni catchment

References