PhD Openings Water Governance in Urbanizing Deltas

The Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at Delft University of Technology has openings for two PhD candidates for interdisciplinary research projects in the area of water governance. The PhD candidates' work will be part of projects financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), under its programme "Urbanising Deltas of the World". The positions are based in Delft, the Netherlands, but will require international travel for field work and workshops.


Update 17 June 2014: no longer open!


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Short descriptions of both positions:

PhD 1: Shifting grounds project

Urbanizing deltas in South Asia have seen rapid growth and change. In cities such as Khulna in Bangladesh and Kolkata in India, this has resulted in an increasing pressure on groundwater resources in peri-urban areas. Existing institutions fail to ensure an equitable sharing and sustainable use of groundwater resources in this changing environment, which is evident from the uncoordinated overexploitation of aquifers and a reduced access for vulnerable groups. This project investigates institutional developments, looking at the dynamic interactions between different groundwater users, the groundwater systems and the influence of nearby cities. The insights should help local stakeholders to negotiate institutional transformations that support a more sustainable and equitable use of groundwater resources. Research activities are combined with workshops to strengthen the negotiation capacities of local stakeholders.

The PhD researcher will make an institutional analysis of the existing structures and their functioning, for groundwater management in selected peri-urban villages in Khulna and Kolkata. Part of this analysis is the use of game theoretical models to capture some of the essential characteristics of resulting institutional processes. Based on these analytical insights, contributions should be made to the design and execution of workshops that help build capacity among local stakeholders. For this, the use of serious games is foreseen.

PhD 2: Strengthening Strategic Delta Planning project

The sustained development of urbanizing deltas, raises conflicting interests among differing stakeholders that need to be accommodated in an integrated development. Agreeing on strategic choices is difficult and implementation frequently leads to deviations of agreed plans. This project aims to better understand the dynamic delta planning process and the roles of stakeholders, experts and policy-makers therein. A direct link to ongoing delta projects in Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Vietnam ensures the involvement and capacity building of key stakeholders and dissemination of results. Ultimately this should result in well-informed broadly supported plans, the implementation of which contributes to sustainable delta development.

This PhD researcher focuses on the influence of existing policy structures on stakeholder coalitions and their evolution. This is to an important extent a descriptive research, drawing on previous research on learning by stakeholders in policy networks. The emphasis is on analysing the experiences in the Netherlands, adding a comparative perspective using insights from Vietnam and/or Bangladesh. The outcomes should provide insights into patterns of coalition formation and change that can help formulate process guidelines. A practical contribution is foreseen in the form of a rapid assessment approach for existing policy structures and their implications for strategic delta planning processes.