The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.
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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw
Justin Alger and Peter Dauvergne
Following the rapid growth in scholarship in global environmental politics since the 1990s, it is time for a reinvigorated research agenda in the field. This chapter outlines the current state of global environmental politics research through the lenses of global political economy, international institutions and nonstate governance, ecological crisis, climate politics, and scholar activism and engaged research. By identifying gaps and emerging issues, it distills a research agenda for current and future scholars of global environmental politics. There is, in particular, a growing need for research that: (a) more closely connects social phenomena to global environmental impacts and change; and (b) asks more innovative and expansive questions rather than filling niches on issues with already extensive scholarship. As it is a relatively new field that seeks to address an escalating global environmental crisis, there is still plenty of room for emerging scholars of global environmental politics to ask big questions.
Cordelia Christiane Bähr, Ursula Brunner, Kristin Casper and Sandra H Lustig
As older women are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, a group of senior women in Switzerland founded the association KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz (Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland) in order to fight for ambitious climate action by legally challenging the Swiss government's inadequate climate policies and mitigation measures. The KlimaSeniorinnen filed a legal request with the authorities, claiming that the Swiss authorities are failing to fulfil their duty to protect them as required by the Swiss Constitution and by the European Convention on Human Rights. This article provides a detailed analysis of the KlimaSeniorinnen case within the context of climate litigation worldwide. It argues that the case's human rights arguments, which are grounded in climate science, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, environmental principles and international law, are generally transferable to almost any country. Therefore, vulnerable individuals and groups can learn from the KlimaSeniorinnen litigation that there are strong legal grounds to bring human-rights-based climate lawsuits against governments and thus governments should expect more litigation if their climate actions or omissions contravene international law and violate constitutional principles.
Edited by Evadne Grant
Colonialism has challenged Aboriginal obligations and relationships to the natural world. This article describes the efforts of First Nations on the continent now known as Australia to maintain their authority and existences in the face of neoliberalism and colonialism, which the British initially inflicted and under which we still survive. The colonial policies of Australia denied our existence and at the same time attempted to demolish our languages and cultures, and to assimilate the consequences. This article asks the questions: what underpins state claims to the title to Aboriginal lands? Does Australia renounce terra nullius and the racist principles and beliefs which make up such a doctrine? And finally does Australia acknowledge and support all ‘Peoples’ as having an inherent right to self-determination, and as a component of such a right, that all ‘Peoples’ have a right to collectively care for their country and to benefit from a relationship to the land which sustains future generations of all Peoples? The possibility of a future for all life forms on earth lies in the responses states might deliver to these questions.
Marina van Geenhuizen, J. Adam Holbrook and Mozhdeh Taheri
This chapter presents the theme, theoretical approaches and overview of the chapters in the book. The theme is the contribution of cities (their actors) to increased sustainability in social-technical systems, eventually by accelerating sustainability improvements. The selected systems are energy, transport and healthcare. Cities may act as the cradle of key inventions, as places of up-scaling and commercialization and as places of quick adoption, though few individual cities take up all these roles. Next, several urban innovation theories are introduced, including agglomeration and cluster theories, and the relational (collaboration) approach, with the aim to ‘position’ the chapters. Specific attention is given to the entrepreneurial ecosystem approach. Complementary approaches are institutional and governance perspectives, in particular with respect to cities acting as institutional innovators. A final approach is the evolutionary approach, as invention, up-scaling, commercialization and adoption of new technology are concerned with long time-lines and manifold uncertainties.