A convoluted network of different water governance systems exists around the world. Collectively, these systems provide insight into how to build sustainable regimes of water use and management. This paper argues that the challenge is not to make the systemless convoluted, but rather to support positive and promising trends in governance, creating a vision for future environmental outcomes. The authors analyse nine water case studies from around the world to help identify potential ‘innovative arrangements’ for addressing existing dilemmas. They argue that such arrangements can be used as a catalyst for crafting new global water governance futures. The nine case studies were selected for their diversity in terms of location, scale and water dilemma, and through an examination of their contexts, structures and processes they identify key themes to consider in the milieu of adaptive transformation. These themes include the importance of acknowledging socio-ecological entanglements, understanding the political dimensions of environmental dilemmas, the recognition of different constructions of the dillema, and the importance of democratized processes.
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