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
In recent years, the Arctic region has reappeared as a centre of world politics and attracted the interest of stakeholders from within and outside the circumpolar North. The region is literally melting and the term ‘Arctic geopolitics’ has become a popular catchphrase to illustrate the Arctic’s status quo and its allegedly fluid future. During that time the European Union also discovered its Northern neighbourhood. Concerned about an unstable Arctic region and related spill-over effects reaching Europe, the EU has shown considerable interest in having a determining influence on future regional developments. It envisioned an Arctic future alongside its own conceptualisation of world order, rule of law and good governance.