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Abstract

This is a chapter about the advent and adoption by water scholars of a new term, “water security.” How did this term appear, how is it defined, in which settings does it apply, what are its different facets and interpretations? Has it impacted water management and if so, how? The authors explore the discourse surrounding this term and the persons and institutions that have found it useful, channeled it, challenged it, and popularized it over the past century.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Also during this decade, the adoption of the 1966 Helsinki Rules formed a key moment in international-level arguments, from a legal point of view. The Rules established a global water-governance system that goes beyond the centuries-old system of treaties regarding navigation and rights of state access to waterways. The Helsinki Rules established a common legal framework guiding the use of surface water and connected groundwater in international drainage basins (Salman 2007).

  2. 2.

    Much of this subsection is drawn from an unpublished paper commissioned by the Puentes Consortium Mexico-U.S. Higher Education Leadership Forum in 2010. The version used here is “Environment and Security in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region: The case of water” (2012) by I. Aguilar-Barajas, R. G. Varady, and C. A. Scott.

  3. 3.

    In a recent novel, The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, near complete desiccation of Mexico, Texas, and other parts of the southern US causes waves of refugees to flee towards Nevada and California.

  4. 4.

    Extreme libertarians would argue that the security of external borders and one’s citizenry is the only rightful task of a national government.

  5. 5.

    That is, to consider the security aspects of these issues, with environment seen as either the cause of security concerns or as the possible object of security-related actions. A complementary term might be “environmentalizing security.”

  6. 6.

    It’s noteworthy that the 1977 monograph by Lester Brown, the 1983 article by Richard Ullman, and the 1989 piece by Mathews were respectively titled, Redefining National Security, “Redefining Security,” and “Redefining Security.” The Ullman and Mathews essays both were published in the influential journal Foreign Affairs, assuring a wide audience for these new, more liberal interpretations of security.

  7. 7.

    An idea that reached its logical endpoint with John Rockstrom et al.’s 2009 paper on “planetary boundaries.”

  8. 8.

    The United Nations Development Programme has identified, since 1994, seven dimensions of human security: economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community, and political (UNDP 1994). As expressed in the 2009 Stockholm International Water Symposium, oriented to transboundary waters, “water security is a key element of human security, together with food security, energy security, health security, economic security, and freedom from fear” (Grobicki 2009, p. 14). The concept of ‘freedom from hazard impacts’ was first referenced in written material in 2005 (Günter Braunch 2005).

  9. 9.

    JMP; the global organization, managed by UNICEF and the WHO, vested with responsibility for collating data for the water-related MDGs.

  10. 10.

    ‘Improved’ sources are those that are potentially capable of delivering safe water by nature of their design and construction. These include piped water into the dwelling, yard or plot; public taps or standpipes; boreholes or tubewells; protected dug wells; protected springs; packaged water; delivered water and rainwater. Unimproved sources include unprotected dug wells and unprotected springs.

Abbreviations

CFA:

Cooperative Framework Agreement

CWP:

Cienega Watershed Partnership

DALY:

Disability Adjusted Life-years

DWC/CPWP:

Dialogue on Water & Climate/Co-operative Programme on Water & Climate

EU:

European Union

FAO:

Food and Agricultural Organization

GEF:

Global Environmental Facility

GEWEX:

Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment

GWI:

Global Water Initiatives

GWP:

Global Water Partnership

HWISE:

Household Water Insecurity Experiences

IBWC:

International Boundary and Water Commission

ICID:

International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage

IGRAC:

International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre

IHD:

International Hydrological Decade

IHP:

International Hydrological Programme

IOI:

International Outfall Interceptor

IWMI:

International Water Management Institute

IWRM:

Integrated Water Resources Management

ISARM:

Internationally Shared Aquifer Resource Management

JMP:

Joint Monitoring Programme (of UNDP and WHO)

MDG:

Millennium Development Goals

MRC:

Mekong River Commission

NAFTA:

North American Free Trade Agreement

NBI:

Nile Basin Initiative

NGO:

Non-Governmental Organization

NIWTP:

Nogales International Wastewater Treatment Plant

OAS:

Organization of American States

OECD:

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

PCCP:

From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential

SADC:

Southern African Development Community

SDG:

Sustainable Development Goals

UN:

United Nations

UNDP:

United Nations Development Programme

UNEP:

United Nations Environment Programme

UNECE:

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

UNESCO:

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNICEF:

United Nations Children’s Fund

UNU-EHS:

University Institute for Environment and Human Security

UNWC:

United Nations Watercourses Convention

WCD:

World Commission on Dams

WCW:

World Commission on Water for the 21st Century

WHO:

World Health Organization

WMO:

World Meteorological Organization

WWAP:

World Water Assessment Programme

WWC:

World Water Council

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Acknowledgements

This work was undertaken as part of the International Water Security Network, a project funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a charitable foundation helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research. The authors further acknowledge the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), for Project SGP-CRA005, supported by U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. GEO-1138881. The chapter also benefited from support by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation in Tucson, Arizona; and from the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at The University of Arizona, and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, UK. The authors are particularly grateful to the team members of the International Water Security Network at universities in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and the United Kingdom; their collaboration and expertise were invaluable to this effort. We further thank Udall Center director Christopher A. Scott, whose contributions and support were critical. Finally, author Robert Varady wishes to express his thanks to UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme in Paris and to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, where he spent a sabbatical semester in the spring of 2018.

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Varady, R.G., Albrecht, T.R., Staddon, C., Gerlak, A.K., Zuniga-Teran, A.A. (2021). The Water Security Discourse and Its Main Actors. In: Bogardi, J.J., et al. Handbook of Water Resources Management: Discourses, Concepts and Examples. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60147-8_8

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