This paper explores the potential of 'boundary work' perspectives for enhancing current approaches in water resources management and research with a focus on developing countries. Boundary work thinking is analysed in the context of three currently leading approaches for water and natural resources management, i.e. Integrated Water Resources Management, Adaptive Management, and the Ecosystem Approach. Given the political dimension of water resources management, questions of governance are merged into the boundary work perspective. The paper introduces the Boundary Work framework as developed by Mollinga (2010a), discusses the potential of the framework for enhancing water resources management and research practice and proposes amendments to the framework. Based on the analyses and following the rationale of Mollinga's boundary work framework, the paper is meant to spark the discussion on a generic 'boundary concept' to communicate about problems in water resources management, to reflect upon a general protocol to develop suitable 'boundary objects' and to cogitate on 'boundary settings' to understand limitations and limits to change towards sustainable water resources management. This serves the development of operational guidance how to approach complex water resources management problems, aiming for: increased sustainability of current water resources management systems, improved research and management approaches under uncertainty, increased adaptive capacity, enhanced resilience to changes, such as climate change. Further, fields for future research in the context of boundary work and water resources management are outlined.
boundary work water natural resources management IWRM adaptive management Ecosystem Approach governance transdisciplinarity sustainability science methodology