NEWAVE PhD 2: The politics of river basin closures

Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)

, , FR

Host institution: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)
Principal supervisor: Prof. François Molle
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Dave Huitema
Non-academic co-supervisor: Dr. Nuria Hernández-Mora
Application deadline: 24 May 2020
Expected starting date: before 15 October 2020
Duration: 3 years


Many river basins worldwide are under stress and undergoing ‘closure’. Spain’s southeastern basins are norious for the overexploitation of both surface and groundwater resources, a situation that generates competition over resources, environmental degradation and ever tighter socio-ecological interconnectedness between users, and between societies and the environment. Such complexity poses sheer challenges to a multi-level governance system that associates, among others, the basin Confederacion, nested public administrations, water user groups, private sector companies, environmental and other NGOs. This study will examine the shifting power configurations that govern how and what solutions are proposed, financed, implemented and managed to respond to water challenges in the Segura River Basin. This basin is specific in that it receives a large share of its supply through the interbasin transfer of River Tagus (Tajo) waters. It will link with and inform wider studies and frameworks on river basin and multilevel governance, and on the political ecology of river basin development.

This PhD position will:

  1. Illustrate socio-ecological relationships on a long time scale;
  2. Make the political and policy implications of basin closure explicit;
  3. Contribute to thinking on the role, diversity of and need for RBOs;
  4. Contribute to the understanding of multi-level water governance;
  5. Reassess conventional RBM and governance in the light of the case study.

Expected results:

  1. Fresh look at and assessment of the Spanish type of RBO (Confederaciones);
  2. A critical discussion of the mono/polycentric divide and theoretical advance;
  3. Evidence of the political nature of the distribution of benefit and costs associated with the manipulation of the water regime, and therefore of river basin governance.
About The Institute of Research for the Development (IRD)

The Institute of Research for the Development (IRD) is a French public research institute reporting to 2 ministries: Education & Research and Foreign affairs & International Cooperation. IRD, in collaboration with partners worldwide, addresses international development issues. IRD emphasizes interdisciplinary scientific research to advance knowledge on issues crucial for inter-tropical e.g., climate change, water resource management, biodiversity conservation, food security, etc. Its research and training activities are intended to contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of developing countries. IRD operates in 35 countries and in 5 French overseas territories. 2220 persons work in the IRD among them 39% are based in developing and emerging countries.

We seek
  • Above-average MSc (or equivalent degree) in Environmental Policy, Political, Geography, Water Resources Management, or related fields
  • Good command of Spanish and English
  • Proven skills in executing empirical research in challenging contexts
  • Capacity to work independently and as part of a team
  • Examples of high-quality written work, such as a journal paper or equivalent
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills to work with multiple stakeholders
Eligibility criteria*
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – have obtained the MSc degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree
  • Mobility rule: you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation you are applying for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

*Please make sure you comply with the eligibility criteria before applying. You need to be able to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment. You can read the full description of eligibility criteria in the Information Note for ITN Fellows.


Prof. François Molle
Directeur de Recherche Institute of Research for the Development (IRD), France

Prof. dr. Dave Huitema
Professor of Environmental Policy, Institute for Environmental Studies,
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. Nuria Hernández-Mora
Water policy, Independent researcher and consultant
Fundacion Nueva Cultura del Agua (FNCA), Spain





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development