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Springer International Publishing
Practical Panarchy for Adaptive Water Governance: Linking Law to Social-Ecological Resilience

Practical Panarchy for Adaptive Water Governance: Linking Law to Social-Ecological Resilience

by Barbara Cosens, Lance Gunderson


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This book presents the results of an interdisciplinary project that examined how law, policy and ecological dynamics influence the governance of regional scale water based social-ecological systems in the United States and Australia. The volume explores the obstacles and opportunities for governance that is capable of management, adaptation, and transformation in these regional social-ecological systems as they respond to accelerating environmental change. With the onset of the Anthropocene, global and regional changes in biophysical inputs to these systems will challenge their capacity to respond while maintaining functions of water supply, flood control, hydropower production, water quality, and biodiversity. Governance lies at the heart of the capacity of these systems to meet these challenges.Assessment of water basins in the United States and Australia indicates that state-centric governance of these complex and dynamic social-environmental systems is evolving to a more complex, diverse, and complex array public and private arrangements. In this process, three challenges emerge for water governance to become adaptive to environmental change. First, is the need for legal reform to remove barriers to adaptive governance by authorizing government agencies to prepare for windows of opportunity through adaptive planning, and to institutionalize the results of innovative solutions that arise once a window opens. Second, is the need for legal reform to give government agencies the authority to facilitate and participate in adaptive management and governance. This must be accompanied by parallel legal reform to assure that engagement of private and economic actors and the increase in governmental flexibility does not destabilize basin economies or come at the expense of legitimacy, accountability, equity, and justice. Third, development of means to continually assess thresholds and resilience of social-ecological systems and the adaptive capacity of their current governance to structure actions at multiple scales. The massive investment in water infrastructure on the river basins studied has improved the agricultural, urban and economic sectors, largely at the cost of other social and environmental values. Today the infrastructure is aging and in need of substantial investment for those benefits to continue and adapt to ongoing environmental changes. The renewal of institutions and heavily engineered water systems also presents the opportunity to modernize these systems to address inequity and align with the values and objectives of the 21st century. Creative approaches are needed to transform and modernize water governance that increases the capacity of these water-based social-ecological systems to innovate, adapt, and learn, will provide the tools needed to navigate an uncertain future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783030102067
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Publication date: 01/13/2019
Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2018
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Barbara Cosens is a legal scholar with a background in science who has almost three decades experience in interdisciplinary team work at the law/science interface. She is Professor in the College of Law and in the Water Resources graduate program at the University of Idaho.

Lance Gunderson is a systems ecologist who has four decades experience in understanding, assessing, and managing regional-scale social-ecological systems. He is Professor and Chair of Environmental Sciences at Emory University.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Practicing Panarchy: Assessing Assessing Legal Flexibility, Ecological Resilience and Adaptive Governance in U.S. Regional Water Systems. .- Part I: Case Studies.-Chapter 2. Resilience, Law and Adaptive Governance in Regional Scale Social Ecological Water Systems .-Chapter 3. Social Ecological Resilience of an Eastern Urban Suburban Watershed: the Anacostia River Basin.-Chapter 4. Assessing Resilience of Ecosystem Services in the Columbia River Bas.-Chapter 5. Escaping a Rigidity Trap in the Everglades of Florida.- Chapter 6. Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation in the Klamath River Basin Social-Ecological System .-Chapter 7. Water Governance Challenges in New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley.- Chapter 8. Social Ecological Resilience and Law in the Platte River Basin.- Chapter 9. Law, Resilience and Water Management in the Lake Eyre Basin, Australia.- Part II: Social-Ecological Resilience and Adaptive Capacity.- Chapter 10: Regime Shifts and Panarchies in Regional Scale Social Ecological Water Systems .- Chapter 11. Rapid assessment of resilience: Uncertainty, tradeoffs and relative resilience.- Chapter 12 Cross-Interdisciplinary Insights into Adaptive Governance and Resilience.- Chapter 13: The Role of Law in Threshold Dynamics Associated with Deliberate Transformation.-Part III: Adaptive Governance.- Chapter 14: Legal and Institutional Foundations of Adaptive Water Governance.- Chapter 15: The Role of Law in the Emergence of Adaptive Governance.-Chapter 16: Balancing Stability and Flexibility in Adaptive Governance: The New Challenges.-Chapter 17: Understanding and Applying Principles of Social Decision Making in Adaptive Environmental Governance and Environmental Law.-Chapter 18. Summary and Synthesis.

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