In Search of Sustainable Water Management

In Search of Sustainable Water Management

International Lessons for the American West and Beyond

Edited by Douglas S. Kenney

Water issues in the American West share many similarities with those seen elsewhere in the world as population growth exacerbates longstanding problems of inappropriate water use and management. The contributors to this timely volume examine the universal challenge of sustainable water management to improve the use of water resources already developed and find ways to moderate our growing collective thirst.

Chapter 5: Transboundary Water Conflicts and Cooperation

Aaron T. Wolf

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, environmental geography, environmental law, management natural resources, water, law - academic, environmental law


5. Transboundary water conflicts and cooperation Aaron T. Wolf With assistance from Robert K. Hitchcock, University of Nebraska; Jeffrey Jacobs, National Research Council; Mikiyasu Nakayama, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology; Julie Trottier, Oxford University; and Douglas S. Kenney, University of Colorado INTRODUCTION Transboundary water disputes can be defined broadly as occurring whenever demand for water is shared by any sets of interests, be they political, economic, environmental, or legal. Conflicts over shared water resources occur at multiple scales, from sets of individual irrigators, to urban versus rural uses, to users located in different political jurisdictions – the traditional definition of transboundary. Transboundary waters share certain characteristics that make their management especially complicated, most notable of which is that these basins require a more complete appreciation of the political, cultural, and social aspects of water, and that the tendency is for regional politics to regularly exacerbate the already difficult task of understanding and managing complex natural systems. International transboundary water issues are increasingly being viewed through the lens of security studies, which are guided by an appreciation of the mutually destabilizing forces of poverty and political instability. The process of poverty alleviation is often hampered in regions where human security is at risk. As a consequence, much of the thinking about the concept of ‘environmental security’ has moved beyond a presumed causal relationship between environmental stress and violent conflict to a broader notion of ‘human security’ – a more inclusive concept focusing on the intricate sets...

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