Rethinking the Role of Humans in Water Management: Toward a New Model of Decision-Making

  • Marcela Brugnach
  • Helen Ingram


During the first decade of the twenty-first century, water availability and distribution have become increasingly important for sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. Issues of water scarcity, quality, and accessibility affect the livelihood of many communities across the globe, as well the sustainability of water systems and associated biodiversity. Although not the only cause, human activities are a major factor in triggering problems of water scarcity and quality. Acknowledging the intrinsic relationship between water and human culture and behaviour has led to a re-evaluation of water resource management (Whiteley et al. 2008; Blatter and Ingram 2001) and the development of new approaches, such as integrated water resource management (IWRM) and adaptive management (Gunderson et al. 1995; Lee 1999; Pahl-Wostl2007a; Walters 1986). These new models try to integrate social and environmental interests and to facilitate participatory and inclusive practices (Feldman 2007), recognizing that water issues involve multiple equally valid ways of understanding. The underlying rationale is to provide effective solutions through collective actions, accommodating diverse perspectives on water management (Ingram and Lejano 2010; Lejano and Ingram 2009).


Indigenous People Natural Resource Management Adaptive Management Knowledge System Integrate Water Resource Management 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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The authors greatly acknowledge the insightful comments of Art Dewulf and the insightful comments of anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Engineering Technology, Water Engineering and Management groupUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Southwest CenterUniversity of Arizona and School of Social Ecology, University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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