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December 10, 2013

Water Governance as Connective Capacity

Introduction: Water is an important source for living. It is expected that due to interplay of climate change, population growth and industrialization, fresh water will become one of the scarcest resources for humans, societies, and ecosystems. In several areas of the world, for example, the state of California in the US and southern parts of Australia, this is already visible. Water shortage affects not only social human conditions, but also has an economic impact, for example in the agricultural domain. Water has social, economic, and environmental aspects. A country is said to experience ‘water stress’ when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 cubic meters per person. It is argued that a third of the world’s population nowadays lives in water-stressed countries. By 2025, this is expected to rise to two-thirds (Edelenbos and Teisman 2011, IPCC-WGII 2007). 

However, not only water shortage is a problem. In almost all delta areas in the world also the surplus of water causes problems. Three-quarters of the world population lives in deltas and runs the risk of severe flooding due to climate change. This will occur by, for example, heavy peak rainfalls and extreme weather conditions (IPCC-WGII 2007), such as in Louisiana (2005), Great Britain (2007), Romania in 2010, and recently the Queensland flood in Australia (2010-2011) and the floods in Thailand (2011). In numerous countries all over the world, defense strategies, such as constructing dams, dykes and levees, are employed. At the same time many countries develop adaptive approaches in trying to face water surplus by providing more room for the rivers. These 
room for the river programs are being developed to provide space for the rivers that are often been enclosed by urban areas (Warner et al. 2012). In practice a combination of resistance (defensive) and resilience (adaptive) strategies are employed in water governance processes.

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