New Article: ‘A Fair Share? Perceptions of Justice in South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform Policy’

Movik, S. (2013). A Fair Share? Perceptions of Justice in South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform Policy. Geoforum.  1-9

Abstract: This paper examines the multiple meanings of justice embedded in the notion of environmental justice. It uses research on South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform policy to explore how ideas of justice have shifted in the course of crafting the policy, employing the notion of ‘allocation discourses’ to capture the changing conceptions of justice. South Africa’s reform efforts are part of a global trend that vests the ultimate authority over water resources with the State, which provides it with a large degree of discretion in allocating use rights to resources. Drawing on discourse analysis and interviews with key stakeholders, the paper demonstrates how the early versions of the policy were characterised by desert-oriented and utilitarian interpretations of justice, which then shifted to an explicitly egalitarian perspective in the final version, but which, to-date, has had little practical consequence, however. In the early versions, existing users were portrayed as unilaterally beneficial and productive, and the process of redistribution as a risky venture that could lead to environmental degradation and the economy being undermined, whilst failing to acknowledge the waste and pollution of existing users. The paper highlights the importance of unpacking key concepts and understanding how particular framings of human-nature relations influence ideas of justice, and how these may shift over time.

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New Book: ‘Sustainable Stellenbosch: Opening Dialogues edited by Mark Swilling, Ben Sebitosi, Ruenda Loots’

Description: Stellenbosch faces the same challenges that most South African urban areas face: rapid urbanisation, sluggish economic growth, growing inequalities, unsustainable use of natural resources, deteriorating biodiversity, social problems, unhealthy living, insecure supplies of healthy food, degrading soils, infrastructure backlogs and inadequate urban planning. Continue reading

Table of Contents Alert: Annual Review of Environmental Resources 37

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Annual Review of Environmental Resources 37

Wicked Challenges at Land’s End: Managing Coastal Vulnerability Under Climate Change
Susanne C. Moser, S. Jeffress Williams, and Donald F. Boesch
Abstract: With continuing influx of large numbers of people into coastal regions, human stresses on coastal ecosystems and resources are growing at the same time that climate variability and change and associated consequences in the marine environment are making coastal areas less secure for human habitation. The article reviews both climatic and nonclimatic drivers of the growing stresses on coastal natural and human systems, painting a picture of the mostly harmful impacts that result and the interactive and systemic challenges coastal managers face in managing these growing risks. Although adaptive responses are beginning to emerge, the adaptation challenge is enormous and requires not just incremental but also transformative changes. At the same time, such “wicked” problems, by definition, defy all-encompassing, definitive, and final solutions; instead, temporary best solutions will have to be sought in the context of an iterative, deliberately learning-oriented risk management framework.

Climate and Water: Knowledge of Impacts to Action on Adaptation
Michael Kiparsky, Anita Milman, and Sebastian Vicuña
Abstract: As adaptation becomes more tightly integrated into the range of responses to climate change, understanding how knowledge of climate change impacts and vulnerabilities can be effectively used is essential both to direct research and to support action. This article reviews literature along an intellectual transect from knowledge of climate impacts on water systems to the influence of that knowledge on adaptation responses. We discuss scientific evidence for changing hydroclimatic regimes, methods for translating climatic information into results relevant to adaptation, uncertainties in these results, methods for addressing uncertainty via adaptation processes, challenges and opportunities for knowledge development and transfer, and sociopolitical factors that enable or hinder the use of knowledge. Challenges remain in developing and applying methods for identifying and reducing underlying vulnerabilities and reliably connecting technical knowledge of climate impacts with local needs remains an unsolved problem. But new decision-making methods and the potential to learn from analogous water management situations provide hope for near-term progress.

Disaster Governance: Social, Political, and Economic Dimensions
Kathleen Tierney
Abstract: Disaster governance is an emerging concept in the disaster research literature that is closely related to risk governance and environmental governance. Disaster governance arrangements and challenges are shaped by forces such as globalization, world-system dynamics, social inequality, and sociodemographic trends. Governance regimes are polycentric and multiscale, show variation across the hazards cycle, and tend to lack integration and to be formulated in response to particular large-scale disaster events. Disaster governance is nested within and influenced by overarching societal governance systems. Although governance failures can occur in societies with stable governance systems, as the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina shows, poorly governed societies and weak states are almost certain to exhibit deficiencies in disaster governance. State-civil society relationships, economic organization, and societal transitions have implications for disaster governance. Various measures can be employed to assess disaster governance; more research is needed in this nascent field of study on factors that contribute to effective governance and on other topics, such as the extent to which governance approaches contribute to long-term sustainability.

Multiactor Governance and the Environment
Peter Newell, Philipp Pattberg, and Heike Schroeder
Abstract: This review critically assesses a large and growing literature on multiactor environmental governance. The first section provides an historical and conceptual background to the observed increase in such arrangements. The second section describes the diversity of governance arrangements and the related actor constellations to address environmental issues, and the third section offers some explanations for the origins, form, and effectiveness of multiactor governance arrangements. The conclusion reflects on some of the key challenges in advancing and deepening research in this area and suggests some fruitful avenues for future work.

Toward Principles for Enhancing the Resilience of Ecosystem Services
Biggs et al.
Abstract: Enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services (ES) that underpin human well-being is critical for meeting current and future societal needs, and requires specific governance and management policies. Using the literature, we identify seven generic policy-relevant principles for enhancing the resilience of desired ES in the face of disturbance and ongoing change in social-ecological systems (SES). These principles are (P1) maintain diversity and redundancy, (P2) manage connectivity, (P3) manage slow variables and feedbacks, (P4) foster an understanding of SES as complex adaptive systems (CAS), (P5) encourage learning and experimentation, (P6) broaden participation, and (P7) promote polycentric governance systems. We briefly define each principle, review how and when it enhances the resilience of ES, and conclude with major research gaps. In practice, the principles often co-occur and are highly interdependent. Key future needs are to better understand these interdependencies and to operationalize and apply the principles in different policy and management contexts.

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Table of Contents Alert: Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the inaugural issue of  Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

Confronting the Challenge of Energy Governance
Neil Gunningham
Abstract: There is a compelling argument for developing a low carbon emissions trajectory to mitigate climate change and for doing so urgently. What is needed is a transformation of the energy sector and an ‘energy revolution’. Such a revolution can only be achieved through effective energy governance nationally, regionally, and globally. But frequently such governance is constrained by the tensions between energy security, climate change mitigation and energy poverty. At national level, there is a chasm between what is needed and what governments do ‘on the ground’, while regionally and globally, collective action challenges have often presented insurmountable obstacles. The article examines what forms of energy law, regulation and governance are most needed to overcome these challenges and whether answers are most likely to be found in hierarchy, markets, or networks.

Innovativeness and Paralysis in International Climate Policy
Charlotte Streck
Abstract: This article describes the challenges of using the constrained tools of international law to negotiate a sustainable framework to address climate change. It sets out to show how the particularities of the problem have led to creative and innovative solutions expanding the borders of international law. To this end, the article discusses carbon market mechanisms, the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol, and the emerging framework to create incentives to reduce land-based emissions in developing countries. These examples illustrate that the recognition of the role of sub-national and private entities in mitigating climate change has had significant impact on the rules of the climate regime. But the article also asserts that the un process, while recognizing the role of private actors, is still inadequately equipped to involve non-state actors in a meaningful way. The climate regime therefore challenges the traditional thinking about interstate relationships. No longer solely a matter for international environmental law, contemporary environmental governance has become a global affair, which makes the lens of transnational law a useful tool to think about these issues in practice in a more intellectually fruitful and relevant way. This article thereby provides a snapshot of the type of issues and discussion that readers of this journal can look forward to in the years to come.

The Coming Water Crisis: A Common Concern of Humankind
Edith Brown Weiss
Abstract: This essay argues that fresh water, its availability and use, should now be recognized as ‘a common concern of humankind’, much as climate change was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and conservation of biodiversity was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This would respond to the many linkages between what happens in one area with the demand for and the supply of fresh water in other areas. It would take into account the scientific characteristics of the hydrological cycle, address the growing commodification of water in the form of transboundary water markets and virtual water transfers through food production and trade, and respect the efforts to identify a human right to water.

Science, Values and People: The Three Factors that Will Define the Next Generation of International Conservation Agreements
Alexander Gillespie
Abstract: This paper is concerned with three emerging issues that define the way in which international conservation law moves forward in the coming decades. The three issues are those related to the use of science to frame regimes; the use of philosophy to examine the values of what is trying to be achieved; and the use of politics to ensure that local communities are linked to conservation efforts. Consideration of each of these three areas is relatively recent, none of them having being at the forefront of conservation considerations of international importance in the past. In the future, this is likely to change.

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Table of Contents Alert: Ecology and Society 16 (2)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Ecology and Society 16 (2): Special Edition: The Energy-Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

The Energy–Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

Karen Hussey and Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Water and energy are each recognized as indispensable inputs to modern economies. And, in recent years, driven by the three imperatives of security of supply, sustainability, and economic efficiency, the energy and water sectors have undergone rapid reform. However, it is when water and energy rely on each other that the most complex challenges are posed for policymakers. Despite the links and the urgency in both sectors for security of supply, in existing policy frameworks, energy and water policies are developed largely in isolation from one another—a degree of policy fragmentation that is seeing erroneous developments in both sectors. Examples of the trade-offs between energy and water security include: the proliferation of desalination plants and interbasin transfers to deal with water scarcity; extensive groundwater pumping for water supplies; first-generation biofuels; the proliferation of hydropower plants; decentralized water supply solutions such as rainwater tanks; and even some forms of modern irrigation techniques. Drawing on case studies from Australia, Europe, and the United States, this Special Issue attempts to develop a comprehensive understanding of the links between energy and water, to identify where better-integrated policy and management strategies and solutions are needed or available, and to understand where barriers exist to achieve that integration. In this paper we draw out some of the themes emerging from the Special Issue, and, particularly, where insights might be valuable for policymakers, practitioners, and scientists across the many relevant domains.

National Climate Change Policies and Sustainable Water Management: Conflicts and Synergies

Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Even in the absence of climate change, freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide for people are under great pressure because of increasing demand for water and declines in water quality. The imminent onset of climate change will exacerbate these impacts, placing even greater pressure on already stressed resources and regions. A plethora of national climate change policies have been adopted that emphasize structural adjustment in the energy sector and increasing carbon sinks. To date, most public debate on water has focused on the direct impacts of climate change on hydrology. However, there is growing evidence that climate change policies themselves may have substantial additional and negative impacts on freshwater resources and ecosystems and may thus result in maladaptation. To avoid such maladaptation, integrated, coordinated policy making is required. In this paper, national climate change policies from Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union (EU), India, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom are compared to: (i) identify where negative trade-offs exist between climate change policies and freshwater resources, (ii) analyze where institutions and structures exist to optimize integration among climate, water, and biodiversity policies, and (iii) provide a much needed overview from a broad selection of countries with a view to identifying further opportunities for theoretical exploration and testing. The synergies and conflicts among climate, energy, water, and environmental policies create additional challenges for governments to develop integrated policies to deliver multiple benefits. Success factors for better policy development identified in this assessment and synthesis include engagement of senior political leaders, cyclical policy development, multi-agency and stakeholder processes, and stronger accountability and enforcement measures.

Enhancing the Resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market: Taking a Systems Approach in Policy Development

Barry Newell, Debborah M. Marsh  and Deepak Sharma

Abstract: As the complexity and interconnectedness of present-day social-ecological systems become steadily more apparent, there is increasing pressure on governments, policy makers, and managers to take a systems approach to the challenges facing humanity. However, how can this be done in the face of system complexity and uncertainties? In this paper we briefly discuss practical ways that policy makers can take up the systems challenge. We focus on resilience thinking, and the use of influence diagrams, causal-loop diagrams, and system archetypes. As a case study, set in the context of the climate-energy-water nexus, we use some of these system concepts and tools to carry out an initial exploration of factors that can affect the resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market. We stress the need for the electricity sector to prepare for the impacts of global change by encouraging innovation and diversity, supporting modularity and redundancy, and embracing the need for a policy making approach that takes account of the dynamics of the wider social-ecological system. Finally, taking a longer term view, we conclude by recommending that policy makers work to reduce reliance on conventional market mechanisms, institute continuing cross-sector dialogue, and promote basic education in system dynamics.

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Table of Contents Alert: Ecology and Society 17 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Ecology and Society 17 (1): Special Edition:  IMPLEMENTING PARTICIPATORY WATER MANAGEMENT: RECENT ADVANCES IN THEORY, PRACTICE AND EVALUATION

Implementing Participatory Water Management: Recent Advances in Theory, Practice, and Evaluation

Yorck von Korff, Katherine A. Daniell, Sabine Moellenkamp, Pieter Bots  and Rianne M. Bijlsma

Abstract: Many current water planning and management problems are riddled with high levels of complexity, uncertainty, and conflict, so-called “messes” or “wicked problems.” The realization that there is a need to consider a wide variety of values, knowledge, and perspectives in a collaborative decision making process has led to a multitude of new methods and processes being proposed to aid water planning and management, which include participatory forms of modeling, planning, and decision aiding processes. However, despite extensive scientific discussions, scholars have largely been unable to provide satisfactory responses to two pivotal questions: (1) What are the benefits of using participatory approaches?; (2) How exactly should these approaches be implemented in complex social-ecological settings to realize these potential benefits? In the study of developing social-ecological system sustainability, the first two questions lead to a third one that extends beyond the one-time application of participatory approaches for water management: (3) How can participatory approaches be most appropriately used to encourage transition to more sustainable ecological, social, and political regimes in different cultural and spatial contexts? The answer to this question is equally open. This special feature on participatory water management attempts to propose responses to these three questions by outlining recent advances in theory, practice, and evaluation related to the implementation of participatory water management. The feature is largely based on an extensive range of case studies that have been implemented and analyzed by cross-disciplinary research teams in collaboration with practitioners, and in a number of cases in close cooperation with policy makers and other interested parties such as farmers, fishermen, environmentalists, and the wider public.

Supporting the Shift from State Water to Community Water: Lessons from a Social Learning Approach to Designing Joint Irrigation Projects in Morocco

Marcel Kuper, Mathieu Dionnet, Ali Hammani, Younes Bekkar, Patrice Garin and Bettina Bluemling

Abstract: This paper focuses on the evaluation of a participatory approach aimed at supporting groups of small-scale farmers in the design of joint drip irrigation projects. Our idea was to create a sustainable social learning environment in which they could acquire adaptive knowledge about new irrigation technology and about designing and managing a joint irrigation project while at the same time improving their negotiation capacities. We developed a framework to evaluate the process as well as the outputs and outcomes of the use of our approach with four groups of smallholder farmers in the Tadla irrigation scheme in Morocco. Our findings showed that the learning environment made it possible to compensate for the knowledge differential among stakeholders and to co-produce knowledge that can be mobilized by small-scale farmers to help them make better informed decisions when choosing whether or not to engage in a joint irrigation project and when developing and implementing such a project. We expect that this will ultimately contribute to supporting the shift from state water to community water through a shared understanding of the technical, economic, and social issues and options related to the management of irrigation water.

Designing Participation Processes for Water Management and Beyond

Yorck von Korff, Patrick d’Aquino, Katherine A. Daniell and Rianne Bijlsma

Abstract: This article addresses the question of how to design participation processes in water management and other fields. Despite a lot of work on participation, and especially its evaluation, this question has received little attention in the research literature. However, it is important, because previous research has made it clear that participation may yield important benefits for humans and the environment but that these benefits do not occur automatically. One precondition is sound design. The design of participation processes has been addressed in detail in the so-called “craft” literature but more rarely in the scientific literature. This article helps close this gap by systematically analyzing and comparing five design guides to determine whether it is possible to combine them into a more robust guide. The article confirms that possibility and presents a preliminary outline for such a guide. Principles for participatory process orientation are presented, as well as numerous partially iterative steps. The adaptive process is laid out in a way intended to help designers determine the objectives of the participation process and the initial design context, and make preplanning choices that eventually lead to the selection of suitable participation mechanisms. There are also design tools that facilitate this work. We discuss how our findings are largely compatible with previous research on participation, notably the work on criteria for “good” or “effective” participation processes. We also argue that our article advances research on an important remaining question in the scientific literature on participation: What process should be chosen in which context?

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‘Impossible to disentangle water, climate change challenges’

Engineering News, 1 April 2011

By: Guy Midgley

Engineering News recently reported the view of the University of the Witwaters- rand’s Professor Grant Cawthorn that climate change caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is the world’s biggest distraction and that freshwater purity is, in fact, the biggest challenge.

He reportedly cited a small group of ‘leading economists’ who drafted the so-called Copenhagen Consensus, which was able to relegate climate change to the lowest priority among several large global challenges that face humanity. (The Copenhagen Consensus, drafted by a small globally unrepresentative group, is not to be confused with the Copenhagen Accord, drafted at the interna- tional 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties.)

What Cawthorn fails to mention is that the driving force behind the Copenhagen Consensus, Bjorn Lomborg, has since revised his position in a subsequently published book, entitled Smart Solutions to Climate Change, and now argues for a global investment of at least $100-billion a year to tackle the climate change issue.

While many would argue that this is far too small an investment, it remains a significant turnaround by Lomborg and does not support Cawthorn’s view. Sir Nicholas Stern, a leading economist and adviser to the UK Treasury, who has, arguably, done the most polished work to explore the economic costs and benefits of dealing with climate change, recently expressed the opinion that climate change will affect people most immediately and profoundly through its effects on water in some form or other (such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise).

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