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Are Environmental Water Advisory Groups an effective form of localism?
- Dare, Melanie (Lain), Lukasiewicz, Anna
- Journal of environmental planning and management 2019 v.62 no.2 pp. 205-228
- decision making, governance, government agencies, interviews, New South Wales
- A reduction in the legitimacy of top-down governance approaches has resulted in many government agencies using decentralised governance approaches, including localism. However, the effective implementation of localism is challenging. Localism aims to encourage innovative context-based solutions; however unanticipated implementation problems often constrain localism outcomes. There is a significant gap in our understanding of localism in practice, with a better understanding essential to improve localism design and implementation. This paper contributes to addressing this gap through an empirical examination of localism in action. Using the CLEAR framework, we evaluate the decentralised governance of environmental water in the Australian state of New South Wales, a contentious, uncertain and multi-level governance environment. Qualitative interviews with 58 Environmental Water Advisory Group members identified barriers to an effective localism approach, including issues of access and capacity development, transparency of decision-making outcomes and power inequities. This understanding enables the development of strategies for improved localism practice.