Coevolution in water resource development. The vicious cycle of water supply and demand in Athens, Greece

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Abstract

This paper adopts a coevolutionary perspective to criticize the dominant narratives of water resource development. Such narratives of progress portray a sequence of improving water technologies that overcame environmental constraints, supplying more water to satisfy the demands of growing populations for better living. Water supply appears as the response to an insatiable demand, exogenous to the water system. Instead, as the history of water in Athens, Greece illustrates water supply and demand in fact coevolve, new supply generating higher demands, and in turn, higher demands favouring supply expansion over other alternatives. This vicious cycle expands the water footprint of cities degrading environments and communities in the countryside. Far from being predetermined and inevitable, as progressive narratives wants it, water resource development has been contingent on geographical and environmental conditions, institutional struggles, accidents, experiments and external geo-political and technological forces. In the last part of this paper, I discuss the policy implications of this coevolutionary reframing with respect to a the transition to a "soft water path". © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-809
JournalEcological Economics
Volume69
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2010

Keywords

  • Athens
  • Cities
  • Coevolution
  • Soft water path
  • Water management

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