Melbourne’s Governance Capacity

Melbourne’s Governance Capacity has been analysed for five water challenges: water scarcity, flood risk, wastewater treatment, solid waste treatment, and urban heat islands. This has been done according to the Governance Capacity tool which consists of twenty-seven indicators. The analysis has been done by literature research, in-depth interviews and feedback from key experts and stakeholders. Here are the overall results.

Melbourne has experienced a nearly 15-year-long dry period known as the Millennium Drought. By using the momentum of the Millennium Drought, Melbourne has successfully raised strong awareness about water scarcity and enhanced its governance capacity to address challenges of water scarcity. In the waste water treatment sector there are many developments—both industry and customer driven—and actors feel that they can freely explore new ideas. There is an increasing awareness of Urban Heat Islands including innovative solutions, although it is not well built into the planning yet. Solid waste treatment is becoming more and more integrated into water management; there is an increasing coordination between these two fields.

Stormwater management, and therefore flood risk, is probably the most difficult challenge in Melbourne. The issue of urban flooding is becoming more and more serious as the population of the city is projected to double by 2050. Most of the growth is in already urbanised areas resulting in even higher density and ratio of paved areas. Thus, stormwater management needs to be better integrated in other sectors such as land use planning (indicator 5.3). In general, Melbourne’s most crucial points for improvement are increasing knowledge and sense of urgency in local communities and among policy makers about the water challenges that the city faces (indicators 1.1 and 1.2). This is needed in order to create more support and willingness to pay for water services (indicator 8.2) and to develop more policy cohesion (indicator 5.3) to better tackle water challenges at hand.