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Sustainable and Adaptive Governance of Water Resources
1  German Development Institute, Bonn, Germany

Published: 01 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Governance & Sustainability
Abstract: Since the 1990s the sustainability concept, i.e. addressing social, economic, environmental and inter-generational issues, is widely acknowledged as guiding principle of natural resource management and governance. In the water sector this is reflected in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), which aims at integrated, economically, socially and environmentally sustainable use of water resources. Faced with climate change, governance of natural resources is confronted with unprecedented situations and past experience may no longer provide reliable guidance for the future. This has been termed the adaptation deficit of water resource management. The question arises in how far IWRM is able to deal with challenges such as decreasing water availability and uncertainty in water supply. To maintain the long-term sustainability of the water sector, its ability to adapt to unforeseen events needs to increase, i.e. (as part of disaster risk management) adaptation needs to become integral part of the governance of water resources. Governance structures need to be developed which enable stakeholders to cope with the challenges and uncertainties of climate change. Increasing both the sustainability and the adaptive capacity will thus be one of the major future challenges for the water sector and serve as contributions to disaster risk management. This paper addresses the question in how far IWRM besides supporting the sustainable management of water resources is prepared for increasing the adaptive capacity of the water sector. This is achieved by examining the features of IWRM regarding their contribution towards increasing the adaptive capacity of water governance regimes. The paper also identifies additional features which would be required for further increasing the adaptive capacity of water governance and management.
Keywords: IWRM, adaptation, water governance, climate change