Table of Contents

Handbook on Water Security

Handbook on Water Security

Edited by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Anik Bhaduri and Joyeeta Gupta

Water security has received increasing attention in the scientific and policy community in recent years. This Handbook covers the wide range of perspectives required to understand water security as a concept guiding water governance and management at different levels and in different regions. It reflects on past, present and future challenges to water security and strategies on how to overcome them. An invaluable resource for scientific scholars, it will also appeal policymakers and practitioners interested in a deeper understanding of this important concept.

Chapter 2: Water security: critical analysis of emerging trends and definitions

Christina Cook and Karen Bakker

Subjects: environment, environmental management, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


The concept of water security has received increased attention over the past decade in both policy and academic communities. To understand the trends in the use of the concept we conducted a comprehensive review of the English-language academic literature on water security and cognate concepts at three separate times (November 2010, September 2012, and July 2013). We found that contemporary framings of water security are highly diverse, encompassing a range of issues. We found two emergent trends over the course of our study (2010–2013): first, in the type of study, a growing focus on community scale modelling studies and, second, in the defining of water security, an increasing focus on climate, environment and policy. With respect to policy and implementation of water security we find two trends: geography matters – how water security is framed depends on the local issues – and the use of militarisation of water security to justify foreign policy strategies. We urge continual collaboration between proponents of narrow versus broad framings of water scarcity, and between those working on this topic from across academia – from the social and natural sciences to the humanities – and beyond.

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