Open Lecture: Governing Water Scarcity in the Age of Anthropogenic Climate Change: Notes from the Field

Wednesday,October 12,2022

Speaker: Dr. Nazia HUSSAIN

Assistant Professor at the Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI), University of Tokyo

Date: Tuesday, November 1, 2022 

Time: 8:50 – 10:00   Place: H-262 (ICU faculty and staff only), Zoom (Open to public, Register with the QR code below)

Abstract:Understanding the distribution of renewable resources, most notably fresh water, in the Global South has never been more important than it is now. According to recent IPCC estimates, nearly a third of major cities worldwide may exhaust their water resources by 2050. The fear is that imminent water scarcity, when combined with inequitable distribution of resources (and burdens), is bound to exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities in these societies. How governance players are making everyday decisions about allocation, distribution, and the use of water in cities today is key to mapping trends of tomorrow. These decisions hold the key to addressing larger concerns about equitable division of resources, social and political tensions within societies, and sustainable preservation of water for future generations. Notes from the field (based on field research, ongoing for the past three years) from Metro Manila, Philippines, and Karachi, Pakistan illustrate that the governance terrain of water distribution in these societies includes multiple players (governments, communities, corporations, small-scale water providers, political entrepreneurs, and others) connected at varying levels with each other; water provision is politically and economically lucrative; and that while water may be considered a public good in principle, it is not provided as a public right. Considering that climate-linked water shortages are underway, already vulnerable populations are at the front lines of facing further deprivation and uncertainty. These insights are not unique to the two case studies but reflect the ground realities of many cities in the developing world. Imagining equitable and sustainable water futures without taking these realities into account will lead to flawed policy responses.


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