Chapter 1: Water security: a popular but contested concept
The academic and political interest in the concept of water security has increased considerably over the past decade as reflected in numerous publications (Bakker, 2012), research and funding initiatives, and conferences. This growing interest may reflect the explosive rise in concern of scientific and policy communities about the state of freshwater resources and the urgent need for sustainable water and land management in an era of rapid change and persistent water and food challenges including access issues. Economic development, population increase, climate change, and other global to local drivers alter water resource availability and use, resulting in increased risk of extreme low and high flows, variously altered flow regimes, and water demands surpassing renewable supply. These have also affected the ability of water-dependent ecosystems to provide ecosystem services. Satisfying human demands is often achieved in the short term at the expense of the environment (Palmer et al., 2008; Vörösmarty et al., 2010) with harmful implications in the long run for socio-ecological systems as a whole. Many, but not all, water problems can be attributed to governance failures rather than the condition of the resource base itself. Governance failures occur at local through to global level, are manifold and affect both developing and industrialized countries albeit in different ways. They are also affected by drivers that operate simultaneously at multiple levels of governance (Gupta et al., 2013).