Volume 37, Issue 4

July 2021

Editorial »

Cecilia Tortajada

Research Article

Impacts of farming practices on water resources sustainability for arid lands: the case of Abu Dhabi

Ameena Kulaib Al Tenaijia, Nuhu Braimaha and Sgouris Sgouridisb

aDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK; bDepartment of Industrial and System Engineering, Khalifa University of Science Technology and Research, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Contact: Ameena Kulaib Al Tenaiji | Email: naakulaib@yahoo.com


The agricultural expansion in Abu Dhabi Emirate has increased the pressure on the emirate’s groundwater reserves, with projections that they will be completely depleted within a few decades. This study quantitatively examines the impacts of current farming practices on the sustainability of groundwater resources. Participants from 344  farms were surveyed. The study found that 76% of the farms rely on groundwater as their main source of water, with significant occurrence of low water productivity. The findings highlight the need to develop and implement effective strategies to maintain the sustainability of groundwater and agricultural development.

Pages: 584–602


Research Article

Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples: a case study of Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act

Jessica Lukawieckia, Rhonda Gagnonb, Carly Dokisc, Dan Waltersd and Lewis Molote

aGeography Department, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada; bLands and Resources Department, Anishinabek Nation, North Bay, Ontario, Canada; cAnthropology Department, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada; dGeography Department, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada; eFaculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Contact: Jessica Lukawiecki | Email: jessica.lukawiecki@gmail.com


While governments in Canada have a duty to act honourably in the development of legislative actions that may affect Aboriginal or treaty rights, Indigenous peoples’ input and knowledge have largely been excluded from the process. The Ontario provincial government recently sought to remedy this failure by engaging with Indigenous groups in the development and implementation of the Great Lakes Protection Act. Using qualitative data, this article explores the successes, challenges and lessons learned during Crown–Indigenous engagement in the development of this Act. The article concludes with recommendations on ways to strengthen processes of engagement between government and Indigenous groups.

Pages: 603–618


Research Article

Improved water management is central to solving the water-energy-food trilemma in Lao PDR

Matthew McCartneya and Jake Brunnerb

aInternational Water Management Institute, Sustainable Water Infrastructure and Ecosystems, Colombo, Sri Lanka; bIUCN Indo-Burma Group, Vietnam Country Office, Hanoi, Vietnam

Contact: Matthew McCartney | Email: m.mccartney@cgiar.org


Relying on published literature, we reviewed water-energy-food issues in Lao PDR in the context of a policy shift to more sustainable ‘green growth’ and significantly increased infrastructure investment resulting from China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI provides the prospect for the country to address its infrastructure deficit and transform from a ‘land-locked’ to a ‘land-linked’ country. However, great care is needed to ensure that future investments do not result in further environmental degradation and harm to communities. An integrated ‘nexus’ approach, in which enhanced water management is central, is a prerequisite for more inclusive and sustainable development.

Pages: 619–639

https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2020.1754175 (Open Access)

Research Article

Modelling water stress vulnerability in small Andean basins: case study of Campoalegre River basin, Colombia

Angelica M. Moncadaa, Marisa Escobarb, Angélica Betancourthc, Jorge J. Vélez Upeguic, Jeannette Zambranoc and Luis M. Alzatec

aWater Program, Stockholm Environment Institute, Bogota, Colombia; bWater Program, Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, USA; cDepartment of Civil Engineering, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Manizales, Colombia

Contact: Angelica M. Moncada | Email: angelicammoncada@hotmail.com


The Campoalegre River basin and its sub-basins present water-use conflicts. This study seeks to analyze these conflicts using a disaggregated quantitative approach, so as to better understand existing and potential water stress. We find that the estimated future flows are not sufficient to meet future demand, which will create significant water stress, particularly in certain sub-basins. A tool is provided for decision makers to identify potential future water conflicts, as well as strategies to reduce system vulnerability. This study is relevant for other watersheds where pressure on water resources may intensify due to increased water demands.

Pages: 640–657


Research Article

Governing international regime complexes through multi-level governance mechanisms: lessons from water, forestry and migration policy

Richa Shivakotia, Michael Howlettb, Victor Fernandezc and Sreeja Naird

aInternational Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland; bDepartment of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada; cNUS Business School, National University of Singapore; dNanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Contact: Richa Shivakoti | Email: rshivakoti@gmail.com


Why do international regime complexes develop? Are hard-law regimes effective in integrating regime complexes for international water resourcesmanagement? Are there other alternatives? This article introduces international regime complexes and argues that these form a superior alternative to hard law and traditional global integrated regimes for many global policy issues. Failure of hard law to overcome fragmentation and generate integrated policy outcomes in international forestry, migration and water resource management is presented. Additional insights are drawn from two successful cases of water management in North America to argue for international regime complexes for better multi-level governance at the regional level.

Pages: 658–675


Research Article

Water resources and textile maquilas in Tehuacán

Antonio Trinidad Requena, Rosa María Soriano-Miras and María de los Ángeles Calvo Alba

Department of Sociology, University of Granada, Spain

Contact: María de los Ángeles Calvo Alba | Email: acalvoalba@ugr.es


One of the effects of industrial relocation is environmental deterioration, as more contaminating stages of production which involve greater use of natural resources are relocated to developing countries. Through the case of Tehuacán, we look at the impact of the global on local political-institutional and social-environmental factors. The establishment of textile maquilas intensified contamination and led to overexploitation, especially of water. To understand the conflicts of interest that were produced in this process, we look at their consequences and identify key factors: displacement of the indigenous population, domination of the textile industry and the conversion of Tehuacán into a ‘maquila city’.

Pages: 676–694


Research Article

Palestinians and donors playing with fire: 25 years of water projects in the West Bank

Julie Trottiera, Anaïs Rondiera and Jeanne Perrierb

aCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ART-Dev, Montpellier, France; bUniversity Paul Valéry, ARTDev, Montpellier, France

Contact: Julie Trottier | Email: julie.trottier@cnrs.fr


This article explores how Palestinian-led, donor-supported water projects have transformed societal interactions concerning water since 1994. It distinguishes spatial, institutional and sectoral trajectories of water and explores the impacts on each type of trajectory. It demonstrates that the overall impact of these projects is more than the sum of the individual projects. All together, they entail territorial change. Wastewater and reuse projects transform the largest flows and have the greatest impact on water trajectories. Overall, the recharge of the upper unconfined aquifer is compromised, with negative effects for the grass-roots farmer institutions managing it.

Pages: 695–719


Research Article

Is three a crowd? River basin institutions and the governance of the Mekong River

Jessica M. Williams

Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong

Contact: Jessica M. Williams | Email: jw89@hku.hk


The Mekong River is important for South-East Asia, where it is shared by six countries and serves 70 million people. Its sensitive ecology is essential for the region’s well-being. Managing the river for economic development while protecting this ecology is challenging. This article investigates the institutions in place for governing the Mekong, as how they interact is significant for the region’s future. Institutional and state discourses regarding the Mekong and its institutions are analyzed to examine the relationships between them and with the Mekong nations, and the effects they may have on the sustainable future of the Mekong.

Pages: 720–740



Moving water from last to first in the Middle East peace process

David B. Brooksa and Julie Trottierb

aWater Program, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; bCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, ART-Dev, Montpellier, France

Contact: David B. Brooks | Email: david.b.brooks34@gmail.com


Differences about fresh water rarely if ever lead to war between neighbouring nations. However, lack of agreement about equitable water use will sooner or later disrupt water management systems. Similarly, unless fresh water is managed sustainably by both nations, their social and economic development will lag, with ultimate effects on any peace agreement. This Viewpoint describes an existing proposal for joint approaches by Israel and Palestine to managing their transboundary water, as well as current unilateral actions by the two governments that work against equitable and sustainable water management.

Pages: 741–745



Universities’ partnership: the role of academic institutions in water cooperation and diplomacy

Anamika Baruaa, Rozemarijn ter Horstb, Jenniver Sehringb, Christian Bréthautc, Lena Salaméd, Aaron Wolfe, Barbara Janusz Pawlettaf, Emmanuel Manzungug and Alan Nicolh

aDepartment of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati; bDepartment of Integrated Water Systems & Governance, IHE Delft, Netherlands; cInstitute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland; dIndependent consultant; eCollege of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA; fNatural Resources Institute, German Kazakh University, Almaty, Kazakhstan; gFaculty of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, Harare; hInternational Water Management Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Contact: Anamika Barua | Email: anamika.barua@gmail.com


Water cooperation and diplomacy processes often rely on the tools and capacities that academic and research institutions can offer. However, groups of scientific experts in the field of water cooperation and diplomacy are often small and relatively discrete, suggesting that greater sharing of knowledge and interconnection of expertise could generate further impetus for development of this important theoretical and applied academic field. With this understanding, a network of academic institutions working on water diplomacy and cooperation called Universities’ Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy was established in 2018, and the same year it was presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This opinion article discusses the role that academic and scientific institutions play in water diplomacy and cooperation, and reflects on the contribution that partners of the Universities’ Partnership can jointly make to further the cause of water cooperation and diplomacy.

Pages: 746–752