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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

This chapter brings together the physical hydrology of the river catchment and the estuary, population growth and water demand, management of wastewater and polluting behaviours, people’s trust in the government, and the styles of government decision-making to model the possible futures for Shanghai’s water supply using a Bayesian Belief Network. Three scenarios, each with two variants, are modelled: high growth rate with an authoritarian socio-political order; slower growth, authoritarian and inflexible; slower growth, flexible, participatory and pluralist. The variants are environmental states: (a) the environment imposes increasing challenges; (b) the environment is relatively benign. This model combines quantitative forecasting techniques with a qualitative understanding of broader structural changes. The results indicate that lower growth leads to a greater quantity of water in the Changjiang and that more inclusive forms of governance have additional benefits for water quality, water quantity and trust in the water that is delivered.

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Mark Usher

While it may no longer be particularly controversial to highlight water as a matter of politics, to describe water’s matter as political still challenges mainstream understandings of natural resource management. Indeed, water provides a sticky medium for the formation and consolidation of broader social, economic and discursive relations, which are enabled or constrained by the production history or ‘cultural biography’ of the commodity. This has been widely demonstrated in relation to capitalist urbanization and neoliberal accumulation in the field of political ecology, with both processes shown to be dependent on the prior commodification of water. This chapter will provide an original perspective on water commodification by demonstrating how desalination technology has allowed for the commercialization and ‘worlding’ of the water sector in Singapore, elucidating the close linkage between economic clustering and resource management. Before the 2000s, when desalination and recycled water were introduced, Singapore was dependent on imported water from Malaysia, requiring ongoing and contentious diplomatic negotiations. The politicized character of the supply network prevented the restructuring and commercialization of the sector, but with the fourfold increase in privately manufactured desalinated water, the Singapore government could apply its cluster development policy to the embryonic industry. The sector, now home to 180 water companies and 26 research centres, has been designated a key growth frontier, with water acting as an agent of worlding in the global knowledge economy.

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Kees Terlouw

World-systems analysis studies the development of our world-system. Its units of analysis to explain social change are not nation-states, but world-systems. There were, until the nineteenth century, many different and dissimilar types of world-systems – world-empires and world-economies – in the world. These have over the centuries been subjugated by the capitalist world-economy which emerged at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe. Analysing these long-term historical processes is central in world-systems analysis. It focuses not on the newest features of globalization, but on the processes which over the centuries have formed our modern world-system. This started as a European world-economy and has always functioned as a capitalist world-economy. It has over the centuries gone through several distinct phases of development and has subsequently incorporated all areas on the globe. The peripheralization of these areas enabled the core to prosper. World-systems analysis focuses on the complex processes through which the inequalities in the world-system are reproduced at the systems level, but are changeable at the state level. The semi-periphery plays an important role in both stabilizing the world-system as a whole and enabling some states to improve their position in the world-system. These changes in position in the world-system are linked to its economic cycle of growth and stagnation and its political cycle of rivalry and hegemony. Besides these recurrent cycles there are also trends which change and undermine the present world-system.

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Ben Derudder

Research into ‘world cities’ has helped rooting (urban) geography in globalization debates. The world city literature focuses on a broad range of topics, and adopts very different ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies. In spite of this multiplicity, the literature collectively deepens and extends our understanding of how (1) specific cities function as key platforms in the organization of a globalized economy/society; and (2) how this impacts socio-spatial changes within those cities. Nonetheless, because the literature lacks a central paradigm, even the most widely cited contributions are best understood as specific building blocks within an increasingly diverse literature on cities in globalization. The chapter reviews key conceptualizations of world cities and how these have become increasingly extended and contested; the main spatiotemporal and organizational dimensions of world city-formation; discusses a mapping of world cities based on the geographies of the office networks of producer services firms; and charts major future research agendas.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

Chapter 9 reinforces the central messages of this book. The Changjiang, government institutions, infrastructures and ordinary people comprise an assemblage of interacting actors. The river is a central actor that depends on inputs from the precipitation system, perhaps modified by land uses, dams, extractions and pollution. The river’s interactions with the tidal system produce a propensity to salt intrusions that can interrupt Shanghai’s water supply. Whether or not people drink this water depends on the cleanliness of the water but more on their willingness to trust the government bureaucracies to supply clean water. In other words, technical choices about forms of infrastructure and water management not only have political bases but also have political consequences. An important consequence of this conclusion is that policy models have different effects in different places: the management of water expresses hydrologic processes, and social–political–economic structures.

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David Saurí, Santiago Gorostiza and David Pavón

This chapter traces the origins of desalination in Spain in the 1960s which we relate to the parallel emergence of nuclear power. Contrary to the latter, however, desalination did not take off because of its high costs, and, more importantly, because of the preference of Spanish water planners for conventional hydraulic works such as dams, reservoirs and aqueducts. After decades of obscurity, desalination resurfaced in the 1990s, when a series of droughts hit the country, and especially after 2004, when social opposition to conventional hydraulic solutions (the Ebro water transfer) made this alternative the selected option for Eastern and Southeastern Spain through the so-called AGUA Programme. The crisis of 2007 and its devastating effects on the urbanization of the Mediterranean coast showed the limits of the ambitious AGUA Programme with many desalination plants canceled or working at very low capacities amidst accusations of overspending and corruption.

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Water Supply in a Mega-City

A Political Ecology Analysis of Shanghai

Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

With the increasing threat of depleted and contaminated water supplies around the world, this book provides a timely and much needed analysis of how cities should manage this precious resource. Integrating the environmental, economic, political and socio-cultural dimensions of water management, the authors outline how future mega-city systems can maintain a high quality of life for its residents.
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Jamie McEvoy

In the last 40 years, environmental governance broadly, and water governance more specifically, has been influenced by a set of policy principles emphasizing decentralization, private sector involvement, and public participation. Simultaneously, growing water demands and uncertainty about climate change and the future quality and quantity of water supplies have led to an increased interest in desalination technology to augment water supplies in many regions. In coastal northwestern Mexico, desalination technology has been identified as a solution to address regional water scarcity. Using two large-scale desalination projects in the state of Baja California Sur (BCS) as case studies, this chapter examines how desalination fits within the contemporary water governance framework. The chapter concludes that the adoption of desalination technology in BCS facilitates some policy principles (e.g., semi-decentralized and semi-privatized), but also deviates in important ways (e.g., lacks genuine stakeholder participation).

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Peer Vries

This chapter presents an overview of economic globalization between the late Middle Ages and the last quarter of the twentieth century. The emphasis is on the exchange of products and people. The text shows that economic globalization has not been a uni-linear, straightforward process but one with major turning points, ups and downs and often very different timing, causes and consequences in different parts of the world. After an introduction and some comments on economic globalization before ‘Columbus’, the text discusses developments in the early modern era; the long nineteenth century; de-globalization between the First World War and the end of the Second World War, and finally the re-globalization that began after the Second World War. Without denying the fundamental importance of geographical and technological factors in constraining and enabling intercontinental exchange the author pays special attention to the importance of power and politics as factors that led to economic integration and disintegration.

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Owiti A. K’Akumu

The term ‘urbanization of poverty’ was first introduced into the urban economics literature by Gerard Piel in his work titled The Urbanization of Poverty Worldwide, first presented to the WHO symposium on ‘Urbanization – Global Health Challenge, in Kobe, Japan, March 18, 1996. Piel (1997) used the term to refer to ‘an upheaval in the lives of the world’s poor’. This ‘upheaval’ was discernible in the trend of poverty dynamics in developing countries where poverty had persisted in rural areas among peasant groups immersed in local traditional economy. From the 1950s, these poor rural populations began an exodus from their traditional rural regions to urban areas where they found limited means of livelihood support thereby translocating rural poverty to urban areas. This is the process Piel (1997) termed ‘urbanization of poverty’, that is, giving poverty an urban other than its hitherto known rural face. It is in this context that Ravallion, Chen and Sangraula (2007) see urbanization of poverty as the extent to which ‘poverty is in fact urbanizing in the developing world’. Similarly Ravallion (2002) deems urbanization of poverty as a situation where the poor urbanize faster than the non-poor. It is a type of poverty that was completely different from the ordinary urban poverty experienced in the developed world. By ‘worldwide’ Piel (1997) essentially meant the developing world of which Chen and Ravallion (2007) broke down specifically into: East Asia and Pacific (EAP); East Central Asia (ECA); Latin America and Caribbean (LAC); Middle East and North Africa (MNA); South Asia (SAS) and; Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Urbanization scholars have tackled issues of migratory urbanization and poverty in different regions as specified above (see, for instance, Hossain 2013, on Dhaka, Bangladesh). This chapter mainly focuses on the SSA region. It builds on the contributions of scholars like Amis (1989), Jamal and Weeks (1993), Potts (1995, 2009), and, Onjala and K’Akumu (2016), among others who have debated issues of urbanization and economic growth in SSA. The new and basic question this chapter is asking is: given that Africa has been undergoing urbanization of poverty over the last 70 decades, are there prospects of reversal in the new millennium? Do SSA countries have the potential to urbanize out of poverty with the current economic dynamics? To answer this question the chapter proceeds by looking into the characteristics of urbanization of poverty; discussing the causes of urbanization of poverty; assessing the implications of economic trends on urban development in SSA countries; and concludes that SSA countries can indeed urbanize out of poverty in the coming decades. Essentially, the chapter attempts to forecast the way out of urbanization of poverty for African countries.