Topic outline

  • The course includes two type of sessions: Contact Sessions (Tuesdays at 9-12) and Case Study Sessions (Thursdays at 9-12). 

    Contact Sessions cover a specific weekly theme that is presented by a lecturer. You will familiarise yourself and discuss the theme already beforehand by reading a given material and discussing it in a preparatory Reading Circle with your group (see more below). After each Contact Session, you will also document your Personal Take-Home Messages to MyCourses. 

    Case Study Sessions are organised on Thursdays and most of the sessions include lectures focusing on frameworks and methods related to governance and its analysis. The sessions also include time to work on your Case Study with your group as well as time to discuss with your mentor. The sessions may also include some reading material, but no preparatory Reading Circles. You will, however, document your Personal Take-Home Messages also from those Case Study Sessions that include a lecture. 

    Please note that after selected sessions, the lecturer will be available for short interview with the Case Study group on their topic.

    Table below gives you a general overview for the Sessions and course timetable.

    Group Work: Reading Circles + Case Study

    The idea of the course is to learn and discuss together what water governance actually is and how it can be understood and analysed in different contexts. In order to facilitate such discussion, the course makes use of preparatory Reading Circles that combine individual learning (reading the given material) with group discussion (actual Reading Circles) and its reflection and synthesis (Reading Circle Summary + Personal Take-Home Messages). In this way, the course makes use of both flipped learning and peer learning. 

    Reading Circles are always related to Tuesdays' Contact Sessions and take place on Tuesdays at 9am-10am i.e. just before the Contact Session. For more information on Reading Circles, see information page below. 

    The group work during this course thus consists of two parallel processes: weekly Reading Circles as well as work on your Case Study: see figure below. As an Individual Assignment, all students are required to submit a Personal Take-Home Messages from each Contact Session (see below).  

    As the course builds on group work and discussions during the sessions, participation in the Contact Sessions and Case Study Sessions as well as Reading Circles is compulsory. You can miss one session: after that you have to compensate your absence with Personal Compensatory Task (see below).

    • Page icon

      Instructions on preparatory Reading Circles, including Reading Circle Brief as well as the roles of Chair and Secretary: read carefully! 

    • File icon

      This document shows the estimates for the work hours of different tasks (theory + practice) during the course: read carefully to understand what is expected from you and where you should allocate your time to. 

    • Tue 12.1 at 9.00-12.00: Introductory Lecture (Marko, Mia & Lauri)

      Introduction to the course and its assignments, including the group work and related Case Studies. 

      Before the lecture, check out the governance presentation from our WAT-E1100 Water & Environment Course: GOVERNANCE PRESENTATION.

      The lecture takes place in Zoom: see the link from Online practicalities sub-page. You must be present in this session to confirm your attendance in the course! If you cannot make it, send a note about it (and your possible preference of your group) already beforehand to course email: wat-e2080 (at) 

      Below you can also find two main publications (article by Pahl-Wostl and report by Bouwma et al.) as well as selected additional reading (AR) related to (water) governance and different policy instruments. We strongly recommend you to browse these through already before the lecture and re-visit them again when starting your Case Study analysis. 

    • Thu 14.1 at 9.00: Governance analysis methods (Marko & Mia)

      Introduction to the key concept of governance as well as key methods for framing and analysing governance. Session in Teams!

      Note that you must read independently the given Reading Material (below) already before the Case Study Session, and to think your answers to the Guiding Questions below. As this is Case Study Session, however, you won't have a preparatory Reading Circle related to the material. 

      Reading Material

      To prepare for the Case Study Session (and entire course), everyone must read before the session the Reading Material i.e. the article marked with number 1 by Akhmouch et al. discusses general context for water governance (as defined by OECD)

      You are also encouraged to browse through the Reading Material of the first Contact Session (above) as well as Additional Reading (marked with AR#) for this session: these will be helpful also when preparing your Case Study. Of particular use is the article by Reed at el. on stakeholder analysis methods (AR0): this you should read carefully when planning your Case Study. Also remember to check Case Study instructions (incl. Case Study introductory presentation) in Case Studies sub-page.

      Guiding Questions:

      • How would you define water governance? What differentiates 'good' governance from 'bad' governance?
      • How you would start to analyse a governance context of your given case study? What kind of analysis tools and methods to use (remember that analytical framework is given = our governance frame)?

    • Tue 19.1: Global water & SDGs (Antti Rautavaara, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)

      Introduction to global water governance as well as to the United Nations system (including UN-Water) and water-related SDGs + discussion on the role that Finland has in all this. Session in Teams: Reading Circle starts at 9.00 and Contact Session then at 10.15!  

      Reading Material

      Before the Reading Circle, everyone must read the following two Reading Material: 1) attached publication by Gupta et al. (numbered 1), and 2) UN website related to SDG6 on water. Also have a brief look at the SDG6 Synthesis Report as well as for SDG Progress Report as well as World Bank's SDG Atlas and particularly its visualisation on SDG6. You are also encouraged to browse through Additional Reading (marked with AR#) available. 

      Related to Antti's lecture, you may also want to have a look at this website on Finland's development policy report, including first-ever comprehensive report on it (focus particularly on the role of water within it) and interministerial Finland's International Water Strategy "Finnish Water Way".

      In the actual Reading Circle, discuss about the Reading Material with the help of Guiding Questions and Reading Circle instructions: your group's Chair will lead the discussion, while Secretary ensure that your discussion is documented into Reading Circle Brief. 

      Guiding questions 

      • Who are the key actors in water governance globally? Is this different to key actors at national and local levels - why?
      • What does successful implementation of SDG6 require? Who should take a lead on it? 
    • Thu 21.1 at 9.00: Transboundary water management & Mekong (Marko)

      Introduction to the transboundary water management and water diplomacy, with Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia as a case study. Also a short introduction to the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management IWRM. Session in Teams!

      Reading Material

      To prepare for the Case Study Session, everyone must read the Reading Material i.e. the UN-Water report numbered with 1 (particularly pages 1-7): the new UN-Water report numbered 2 is also strongly recommended reading. You are also encouraged to browse through the other parts of the report as well as Additional Reading (marked with AR#) available. Also check out the website of UNECE Water Convention to learn more about the two UN conventions on transboundary waters i.e. UNECE Water Convention 1992 and UN Watercourses Convention 1997.

      Aalto's Water & Development Research Group has also done plenty of research related to both IWRM and transboundary waters. It is therefore worth to check e.g. Doctoral Theses (and related articles) by Marko Keskinen, Mizan RahamanVirpi Stucki and Hafsa Munia as well as relevant articles e.g. by Matti Kummu: all can be found from You are also encouraged to check out the recent Water Diplomacy reports (in Finnish) done for the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, available here and here as well as English summary of the first one here. Check also the Master's Thesis on water diplomacy by Erik Salminen in the Additional Reading Material.

      Guiding questions 

      • How does governance of transboundary waters differ from other water governance contexts?
      • Why is Finland active in water diplomacy and transboundary water cooperation? 
    • Tue 26.1: EU Water Framework Directive in Finland (Antton Keto, Ministry of Environment)

      Introduction to EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and its implementation in Finland. Session in Teams: Reading Circle at 9.00 and Contact Session at 10.15.

      Reading Material

      To prepare for the Reading Circle, read the given Reading Material i.e. attached publication by Green et al. 2013 (#1). In addition, visit the EU's website on the WFD and read its key texts ( as well as to browse through the actual Directive ( and the most recent implementation report (  

      EU also recently carried out so-called fitness check on EU's water-related legislation, including WFD. Its executive summary available in EU's website is worth reading as well (also available as AR4).

      Topical theme regarding WFD here in Finland is a recent negative decision on the environmental permit of Finnpulp biorefinery. One interesting view on this is provided by Niko Soininen and Antti Belinskij in this blog post. In addition, Lauri Ahopelto and our other AaltoWAT colleagues recently wrote an interesting article (in Finnish) to Vesitalous magazine about Finnish water governance: it can be found here (pages 38-42).

      You are also encouraged to read Additional Reading (marked with AR#) available, including Jaakko Sierla's introduction to water resources management in Finland.

      Guiding Questions:

      1) What are the main objectives for EU Water Framework Directive? Are these relevant for your Case Study?

      2) How does EU Water Framework Directive guide water governance in the EU and Finland? Where does its power lie? 

    • Thu 28.1 at 9:00: Water legislation (Niko Soininen) + environmental economics (Matti Liski)

      Introduction to Finnish legislation related to water and environment, including its links to EU legislation. Introduction to environmental economics and the concept of externalities.

      Reading Material

      To prepare for the Case Study Session, read the given Reading Material i.e. the list of different laws and agreements related to water (#1) as well as new Water Act 2011 (#2): kindly note that the Reading Material #1 is directly available at the Ministry of the Environment's websiteCheck also this blog post by Niko Soininen and Antti Belinskij on Finnpulp case. 

      You are also encouraged to read Additional Reading (marked with AR#) available, including the brief related to the Nobel Prize on Economics that Nordhaus and Romer received in 2018.

      Guiding Questions:

      1) What kind of role laws and regulations have in water governance? Why? 

      2) How does law link to your Case Study? For example, is it clearly setting its context and aims or just providing some support?

    • Tue 2.2: Collaborative water governance and river basin planning: case Kokemäenjoki (Anne Mäkynen, ELY Centre + Lauri) 

      Introduction to collaborative water governance and related planning processes in Finland, with Kokemäenjoki River and its water vision process (vesivisio) as a case. Also short introduction to hydropower in Finland by Lauri. Session in Teams: Reading Circle at 9.00 and Contact Session at 10.10.

      Reading Material:

      To prepare for the Reading Circle, read the pages 8-25 from the Doctoral Thesis by Irina Mancheva (#1), focusing on how she defines water governance and collaborative governance. You should also have a look at the website of Kokemäenjoki water vision (please note that the pages are in Finnish only) and watch the introductory video about Iijoki water vision (titles in English). 

      You are also encouraged to read Additional Reading (AR) available, including publications related to collaborative governance and participation as well as hydropower. Interesting to view is also a 50-minute documentary video about Hydropower in Kemijoki (unfortunately in Finnish only):  or a 7 minute version

      Guiding Questions:

      1) Why are collaborative governance arrangements so popular?

      2) What are pros and cons of such arrangements?   

      3) What is water vision, and what are reasons for the emergence of such processes in Finland?

    • Thu 4.2. at 9:00: Environmental permits and environmental impact assessment (Liisa Nyrölä, ELY-center)

      Environmental permitting and EIA processes in Finland.

      To prepare for the Case Study Session, browse through the Reading Material i.e. introductory chapter from Glasson et al's 2005 book on EIA + the two websites below. You are also encouraged to read the Additional Reading Material (AR) available (although part of it in Finnish), including two recent reports by our Visiting Lecturer Liisa Nyrölä.

      Guiding Questions:

      • Why are environmental permits and EIAs needed; what they aim for? 
      • What role does permitting and impact assessment processes have in your case study? Are they important; why/why not? 
    • Tue 9.2: Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY (Jyrki Kaija, HSY)

      Governance of water services in Finland, and its provision in Helsinki Metropolitan Area by Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY. Session in Teams: Reading Circle at 9.00 and Contact Session at 10.15.

      Before the contact session, read the Reading Material provided below: read carefully the article by Meene et al. (#1) and browse also through the HSY's report "Building environmental responsible metropolis" (#2) and particularly its pages 23-29. Visit also HSY's website, and browse through HSY's strategy and operating policy. In addition, it is recommended to browse through the articles and reports under Additional Reading Material as well as to check out Water Services Act (2001/119 + its 2014 amendment) and to visit the website of EurEau at:

      Guiding Questions:

      • What kind of special characteristics urban water context brings to governance? Why?
      • The article by Meene et al. differentiates between hierarchical, market and network governance: what are their key differences? Which 'governance approach/setting' would best describe HSY's activities? 
      • EXTRA: what kind of 'governance approach/setting' your own Case Study has and why? Could it work better with some other setting?

    • Thu 18.2: Case Study summary session 

      The five Case Studies are presented on Tuesday 16.2 (Groups 1-3) and Thursday 18.2 (Groups 4-5). 

      After the presentations on Thursday, there is joint summary session where the teachers' provide some general remarks on all Case Studies and students have an opportunity to discuss in small mixed groups what the Case Study analyses as a whole. 

    • Tue 23.2: Synthesis & Feedback (Mia & Lauri)

      The last Contact Session of our course synthesises the key themes of our course, and links them to politics and power. The session will also provide you with an opportunity to reflect your learning as well as to provide feedback to your group as well as generally about the course.

      Reading Material 

      Reading Material below includes four different scientific articles (1-4) that all look at politics and power related to water. Each group member selects one of the articles and browses it through (no need to read it thoroughly): just make sure that your group reads all four articles. You can naturally also read other articles + Additional Reading Material if you wish.

      After, write down your personal Key Points related to the article. You can structure the Key Points with the help of following Guiding Questions:

      • What is the role of politics and power in water governance? 
      • How politics can be addressed and understood as part of a governance process?

      Submit your Key Points as a reply to your Take-Home Messages Discussion Thread below before Tuesday's Contact Session: also mention the article you browsed through. Key Points will then be used as a basis for (different kind of) Reading Circle in our Contact Session, and they will together form your last Reading Circle Brief. 

    • Forum icon
      Submission of Personal Take-Home Messages Forum

      Every student must submit 2-3 Personal Take-Home Messages in bullet-points from all Contact Sessions and Case Study Sessions that include a lecture (exceptions: the first and last Contact Sessions). The sessions that you must submit Take-Home Messages are marked with blue stars in session schedule above.

      The Take-Home Messages should be short reflections on your main learning points from that particular session. The aim is to synthesise and reflect on the session's themes, and to put them into a context that is relevant for your own interests as well as your Case Study. They also allow us and the Guest Lecturers' to understand the key themes you have learned from the Sessions. 

      The Take-Home Messages will not be assessed, but you must do all of them to pass the course. 

      Submit your first Take-Home Messages to this Discussion Forum by starting a new discussion with title "MY NAME: Take-Home Messages" and then including your Take-Home Messages as built points as a text into the discussion. After that, add each new set of Take-Home Messages as a reply to your original discussion thread. 

      Note that your Take-Home Messages are visible for everyone. It is thus highly recommended also to read and comment other student's reflections! 

      Deadline: within the same week of each session i.e. by Sunday of that week. 

    • Forum icon
      Personal Compensatory Task (compensating a missed session) Forum

      In order to pass the course, you must participate in all Contact Sessions and Case Study Sessions as well as preparatory Reading Circles (as they form major part of learning and assessment in the course). You can miss one session: after that you must do a Compensatory Task.

      Compensatory Task means writing a Personal Synthesis (800-1000 words) on the topic of the session you missed. The Synthesis should be based on the session material (reading material + presentation), and it must include a summary of the topic as well as your reflection on it from your own view point. 

      Submit your Personal Synthesis to this Discussion Forum by starting a new discussion with title "MY NAME: Personal Synthesis on (topic)", and then including your reflection either as a text or as an attachment. 

      Note that your Synthesis is visible to all students in the course: you can thus also e.g. send its link to your group members.