Building the Institutional Capacity of Local Governments to implement WSUD is an essential part of the WSUD in Sydney Program. This page includes an explanation of the theory behind Institutional Capacity.
Currently the WSUD In Sydney Program is running rapid assessment workshops to help Councils build their capacity.
The WSUD in Sydney Program has partnered with others to develop several resources for local government to assess the institutional capacity for WSUD in their organisation.
Resources are available on the Rapid Assessment and Action Plan Page . There are also details of recent workshops outcomes.
Institutional Capacity Concepts:
Institutional Capacity defined by Brown et al (2006) in Chapter 5 of Australian Run Off Quality involves four spheres that impact the uptake of sustainable urban water management practices by the inter-play within and between individual spheres.
Social research finds that capacity building interventions that focus on one sphere in isolation (while commendable), will NOT facilitate the mainstreaming of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD).
The four spheres include:
- Human resources – technical knowledge and people skills;
- Intra-organisational – key processes, systems, cultures and resources within organisations;
- Inter-organisational – agreements, relationships and consultative networks between organisations;
- External Institutional Rules and Incentives – regulations, policies and incentive schemes to encourage the uptake of WSUD.
While councils have tremendous power through local planning in terms of encouraging the uptake of WSUD via External Rules and Incentives (for example, Local Environment and Development Control Plans); this fourth Institutional Capacity sphere is also bound by Federal and State Legislative and Policy Tools thereabouts.
For more information in this regard, refer also to the Planning and Policy page of this site.
Institutional Barriers to the Uptake of WSUD
Following are the 12 types of common barriers (observed and studied) to advancing sustainable urban water management practices (including WSUD) and as identifed by Brown and Farrelly (2007).
Their meta-analysis was conducted to better understand why the implementation of sustainable urban water management practices fails to occur beyond ad hoc project interventions.
Corresponding Institutional Capacity Building strategies (Strategies 1 to 4 identified in the diagram) to address these barriers and as detailed by Brown et al (2006) in Australian Run Off Quality: Chapter 5 can be accessed by clicking on the following links.
- Strategy 1 – Professional Development;
- Strategy 2 – Organisational Strengthening;
- Strategy 3 – Facilitative Reform; and
- Strategy 4 – Knowledge Building.
Five Phases of Organisational Growth
The Five Phases of Organisational Growth used to define a council’s transition to improving Institutional Capacity and therefore their ability to adopt and implement WSUD are defined by Brown (2008)
Click here to see a condensed version of Brown’s paper detailing the 5 Growth Phases and pertaining to organisational development, operational qualities and practitioner skill levels.
Key Factors Enabling the Uptake of WSUD
Within this context, Champions or Emergent Leaders as defined by Taylor (2008) were identified as critical change agents promoting WSUD within their respective organisations and more broadly, the water sector.
These Champions were also equally highlighted by Clarke and Brown (2007) in the Industry Report, Transition to WSUD: The Story of Melbourne who identified the key transition factors regarding Institutional Capacity which encouraged the uptake of WSUD.
Developing the ability of individual Champions is an integral part of building Institutional Capacity.
In this regard, the culmination of Taylor’s (2008) PHD Research, Leadership in Sustainable Urban Water Management – An Investigation of the Champion Phenomenon Within Australian Water Agencies provides an empirical analysis and understanding of the role of Champions.
Click Here to see an extract of the report. Section 10 – Management Strategies (support, foster, attract, recruit, supervise, develop and replicate) that can be implemented by middle/ executive leader managers (in collaboration with other Institutional Capacity interventions).
Click Here to read an article published in WME by Taylor in March 2010 entitled ‘Unleashing Champions’.