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What does resilience mean for urban water services?

Johannessen, Åse LU and Wamsler, Christine LU (2017) In Ecology and Society 22(1).
Abstract
Disasters and climate change impacts, as well as increased water demand, pose serious risks to the provision of sustainable urban water services, e.g., drinking water, sanitation, and safe drainage, especially in cities. These challenges call for a transition toward improved water management, including considerations of “resilience.” However, because the resilience concept has multidisciplinary origins it is open to multiple interpretations, which poses a challenge to understanding and operationalizing the concept. We explore how resilience thinking can be translated into urban water practice to develop the conceptual understanding of transitions toward sustainability. The study is based on a literature review, interviews with water... (More)
Disasters and climate change impacts, as well as increased water demand, pose serious risks to the provision of sustainable urban water services, e.g., drinking water, sanitation, and safe drainage, especially in cities. These challenges call for a transition toward improved water management, including considerations of “resilience.” However, because the resilience concept has multidisciplinary origins it is open to multiple interpretations, which poses a challenge to understanding and operationalizing the concept. We explore how resilience thinking can be translated into urban water practice to develop the conceptual understanding of transitions toward sustainability. The study is based on a literature review, interviews with water experts, as well as four case studies in South Africa, India, Sweden, and the Philippines. We identify seven key principles or attributes of urban water resilience and the related transition process. We find that resilience building needs to discern between and manage three levels (i.e., socioeconomic, external hazard considerations, and larger social-ecological systems) to be sustainable. In addition, we find that human agency is a strong driver of transition processes, with a certain level of risk awareness and risk perception providing one threshold and a certain capacity for action to implement measures and reorganize in response to risks being another. The difficulty of achieving “knowledge to action” derives from the multiple challenges of crossing these two types of identified thresholds. To address long-term trends or stressors, we find an important role for social learning to ensure that the carrying capacity of urban water services is not exceeded or unwanted consequences are created (e.g., long-term trends like salinization and water depletion). We conclude that the resilience term and related concepts add value to understanding and addressing the dynamic dimension of urban water transitions if the key principles identified in this study are considered. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
climate change adaptation; disaster risk reduction; resilience; sustainable cities; urban transition; urban water; water and sanitation
in
Ecology and Society
volume
22
issue
1
publisher
The Resilience Alliance
external identifiers
  • scopus:85016740902
  • wos:000399397700009
ISSN
1708-3087
DOI
10.5751/ES-08870-220101
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ccdb559c-6850-442a-aa54-8466ea549116
date added to LUP
2017-02-13 14:34:10
date last changed
2018-06-10 05:15:45
@article{ccdb559c-6850-442a-aa54-8466ea549116,
  abstract     = {Disasters and climate change impacts, as well as increased water demand, pose serious risks to the provision of sustainable urban water services, e.g., drinking water, sanitation, and safe drainage, especially in cities. These challenges call for a transition toward improved water management, including considerations of “resilience.” However, because the resilience concept has multidisciplinary origins it is open to multiple interpretations, which poses a challenge to understanding and operationalizing the concept. We explore how resilience thinking can be translated into urban water practice to develop the conceptual understanding of transitions toward sustainability. The study is based on a literature review, interviews with water experts, as well as four case studies in South Africa, India, Sweden, and the Philippines. We identify seven key principles or attributes of urban water resilience and the related transition process. We find that resilience building needs to discern between and manage three levels (i.e., socioeconomic, external hazard considerations, and larger social-ecological systems) to be sustainable. In addition, we find that human agency is a strong driver of transition processes, with a certain level of risk awareness and risk perception providing one threshold and a certain capacity for action to implement measures and reorganize in response to risks being another. The difficulty of achieving “knowledge to action” derives from the multiple challenges of crossing these two types of identified thresholds. To address long-term trends or stressors, we find an important role for social learning to ensure that the carrying capacity of urban water services is not exceeded or unwanted consequences are created (e.g., long-term trends like salinization and water depletion). We conclude that the resilience term and related concepts add value to understanding and addressing the dynamic dimension of urban water transitions if the key principles identified in this study are considered.},
  articleno    = {1},
  author       = {Johannessen, Åse and Wamsler, Christine},
  issn         = {1708-3087},
  keyword      = {climate change adaptation; disaster risk reduction; resilience; sustainable cities; urban transition; urban water; water and sanitation},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {The Resilience Alliance},
  series       = {Ecology and Society},
  title        = {What does resilience mean for urban water services?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08870-220101},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2017},
}