Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 36–47 | Cite as

Community Capacity for Adaptation to Climate-Induced Water Shortages: Linking Institutional Complexity and Local Actors

  • Janet L. Ivey
  • John SmithersEmail author
  • Rob C. de Loë
  • Reid D. Kreutzwiser


There is growing concern for the capacity of urban and rural communities to manage current water shortages and to prepare for shortages that may accompany predicted changes in climate. In this paper, concepts relating to the notion of climate adaptation and particularly “capacity building” are used to elucidate several determinants of community-level capacity for water management. These concepts and criteria are then used to interpret empirically derived insights relating to local management of water shortages in Ontario, Canada. General determinants of water-related community capacity relate to upper tier political and institutional arrangements; the characteristics of, and relationships among, pertinent agencies, groups, or individuals involved in water management; and the adequacy of financial, human, information, and technical resources. The case analysis illustrates how general factors play out in local experience. The findings point to geographically specific factors that influence the effectiveness of management. Key factors include collaboration between water managers, clarification of agency roles and responsibilities, integration of water management and land-use planning, and recognition and participation of both urban and rural stakeholders, whose sensitivities to water shortages are spatially and temporally variable.


Capacity Adaptive capacity Climate change Drought management Local adaptation 



This research was funded through a grant provided by the Climate Change Action Fund of Natural Resources Canada. The participation of officials and members of the communities in the upper Credit watershed, Credit Valley Conservation, and provincial and federal agencies is gratefully acknowledged. The paper benefited from the editorial suggestions of two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet L. Ivey
    • 1
  • John Smithers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rob C. de Loë
    • 1
  • Reid D. Kreutzwiser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1Canada

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