Governance scenarios for addressing water conflicts and climate change impacts

Christopher Kuzdas, Arnim Wiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scenarios that portray alternative governance regimes may help support positive change in regions that face persistent water problems. Here, we explore this proposition using the case of Guanacaste, Costa Rica - a region that faces water conflicts and climate change impacts. We developed five alternative scenarios using a formative and participatory approach with system, consistency, and diversity analyses, and visualization. In one scenario, water conflicts surfaced due to opaque governance not accounting for communities that opposed suspect alliances of agencies and developers. In another, challenging contexts overwhelmed fragmented governance causing dissent; which contrasted with another scenario where engaged and vertically accountable governance schemes fit the unique dry tropical regional context and collectively mitigate problems. Governance though, in a return to historical precedent, could alternatively function through top-down schemes to safeguard rural lifestyles; or, operate minimalist schemes that fill only technical roles. The scenario building process facilitated diverse stakeholders to collaboratively explore and articulate alternative water governance schemes. The practical value of the scenarios, however, we found to depend on efforts before and after the study and the successful integration of the scenarios with those efforts. Previous water governance research in the region facilitated partnerships, trust, and active participation in the scenario building process. Timely follow-up demonstrated the real-time application of the scenarios as reference points to help craft strategies that aim to transition current governance toward sustainable alternatives. Governance scenarios, if integrated with a broader transformational planning process, can be a constructive step toward articulating and implementing sustainable water governance schemes. In Guanacaste they helped revitalize coordination and encouraged experimentation through new water governance efforts in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-196
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume42
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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climate change
governance
scenario
water
participatory approach
conflict
planning process
lifestyle
visualization
stakeholder
fill
Costa Rica
participation
community

Keywords

  • Alternatives
  • Conflict mitigation
  • Latin america
  • Participation
  • Scenario planning
  • Water governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

Governance scenarios for addressing water conflicts and climate change impacts. / Kuzdas, Christopher; Wiek, Arnim.

In: Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 42, 2014, p. 181-196.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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