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Past, present and future urban water: The challenges in creating more beneficial trajectories

Alternative visions of cities that treat water more sustainably are becoming more compelling as understanding increases of current impacts and future pressures. Here, an alternative relationship between water, space and citizens is commonly advocated that represents a significant shift from the techno-rational supply-oriented emphasis of the twentieth century. In discussions connected to any transition to a more beneficial urban water trajectory, aspects such as land use change, new technologies or innovative policies are frequently held up as being critical elements. Rather than focus on any notional Water Sensitive City as an outcome to be achieved, this chapter complements this literature by critically examining the processes that may help or hinder transitions of this nature. It firstly explores the historical states of urban water management and links to the wider socio-political context within which change must occur. It then analyses issues related to the speed and scale of land use change, emphasising how every urban area has differing flows of finance, regeneration opportunities or free development space. The argument then turns to path dependence and how institutional, cultural and technological norms may resist attempts at change, before focusing on the difficulties in enabling effective policy transfer across what are distinct territories and contexts. It ends with a discussion on how water is just one of an increasing number of competing urban visions – from the Smart City to the Resilient City – all of which are fighting for attention, resources and action.
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Type of thesis
White, I. (2017). Past, present and future urban water: The challenges in creating more beneficial trajectories. In S. Bell, A. Allen, P. Hofmann, & T.-H. Teh (Eds.), Urban Water Trajectories (Vol. 6, pp. 165–178). Springer.
©2017 Springer International Publishing. This is the author's accepted version. The final publication is available at Springer via https://www.springerprofessional.de/past-present-and-future-urban-water-the-challenges-in-creating-m/10958552