Linking Law and New Governance: Examining Gaps, Hybrids, and Integration in Water Policy
Since the 1980s there have been significant shifts from traditional environmental enforcement toward networks, cooperation, and more pluralized forms of governance. The most recent iterations of these new approaches are increasingly characterized as New Environmental Governance (NEG). A range of common characteristics that include collaboration, participation, adaptation, and nonbinding guidelines and agreements define NEG approaches. Despite a growing NEG literature, it is unclear whether and how NEG can be effectively implemented in the same policy domain as traditional hard law. This article empirically explores and theorizes the dynamics of NEG's interaction with conventional law. It proposes a spectrum of eight possible interactions between traditional law and NEG approaches, before evaluating three distinct perspectives, namely, gaps, NEG in the shadow of the law, and integration. It studies these relationships by empirically evaluating three case studies from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States that correspond to these interactions. The article explores the strengths and weaknesses of the three relationships. It finds that a significant barrier to achieving productive cohesion between law and NEG is the worldview of regulators, who eschew NEG collaboration as ineffectual or incompatible with hard law. Recommendations are offered on how to better achieve cohesive implementation between law and NEG.