Water conservation: Theory and evidence in urban areas of the developed world

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Water conservation is gaining ascendancy around the world as the most important strategy for water planning and management for the future decades. In the urban areas of the developed world, water conservation has to a certain extent achieved the objective of curbing consumption, especially in the more compact European cities. Urban water conservation depends on changing behaviors by water users, which may be luenced by personal factors (related to variables such as age, income, education, etc.) or may follow stimuli coming from the economic (i.e., pricing), technological, or public awareness spheres. The relative merit of each of these factors, as presented in this review, remains inconclusive, and conservation behaviors may vary in degree. However, conservation is also luenced by nonpurposeful factors, such as urban design, population, economic profile, and productive base. This article also discusses the governance context in which urban conservation practices take place. It is argued that conservation may luence governance (for instance, in the emergence of new, decentralized decision making networks) and also that governance, and especially the consolidation of certain nonpublic actors with specific agendas, may drive conservation practices. © 2013 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-248
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • behavior
  • cities
  • governance
  • households


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