Addressing the Challenge of Institutional Infrastructure in a Technically Focussed World

Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 54)


In this concluding chapter of the book, the key results are recapitulated and implications of the findings for policy, practice and theory are reflected upon. In addressing these mounting challenges, focussing on how to transition and transform to more sustainable water governance and management paradigms, is a crucial piece of the puzzle that includes technical and hard infrastructural adaptation, but should not be limited to it. It is high time that the social and institutional infrastructure that defines the decision making environment for technical and physical infrastructural adaptation is paid equal attention. Water governance regimes do need to be both adaptable to amalgamating pressures as climate change develops but also structured to foster elements of a system that allows for more holistic and sustainable adaptation to take place. However, beyond certain tipping points, there are state changes to which adaptation and the ability to cope may be virtually impossible. Thus, policies and institutions focussing on mitigation and adaptation should become better integrated in order to take better advantage of potentially valuable synergies, and ensure the avoidance of mal-adaptation that might in turn increase climate change drivers.


Rhône, Canton Valais, Switzerland Aconcagua, Region V, Chile Transformation of water governance Resilience based climate change adaptation Social and institutional infrastructure 


  1. Adger WN, Agrawala S, Mirza MMQ, Conde C, O’Brien K, Pulhin J, Pulwarty R, Smit B, Takahashi K (2007) Assessment of adaptation practices, options, constraints and capacity. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauer C (2004) Siren song: Chilean water law as a model for international reform. Resources for the Future, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Behncke Izquierdo I (2011) Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans. Paper presented at the TED 2011, Longbeach, CA, March 2011Google Scholar
  4. Dourojeanni A, Jouravlev AS (1999) El Código de Aguas de Chile: entre la ideología y la realidad. vol LC/R.1897. Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe, Santiago de ChileGoogle Scholar
  5. DuPasquier A (2011) Promoting an alliance between town, country and the mountains. Bundesamt für Raumentwicklung, 10 Oct 2011Google Scholar
  6. Engle NL, Johns OR, Lemos MC, Nelson DR (2011) Integrated and adaptive management of water resources: tensions, legacies, and the next best thing. Ecol Soc 16(1):19 [online]. URL:
  7. Fulton Suri J (2011) What nature can teach us about design. Paper presented at the TEDx WWF. Geneva, Switzerland, 13 Oct 2011Google Scholar
  8. Gelcich S, Hughes T, Olsson P, Folke C, Defeo O, Fernández M, Foale S, Gunderson LH, Rodríguez-Sickert C, Scheffer M, Steneck RS, Castilla JC (2010) Navigating transformations in governance of Chilean marine coastal resources. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(39):16794–16799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gupta J, Termeer C, Klostermann J, Meijerink S, Van den Brink M, Jong P, Nooteboom S, Bergsma E (2010) The adaptive capacity wheel: a method to assess the inherent characteristics of institutions to enable the adaptive capacity of society. Environ Sci Policy 13(6):459–471. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2010.05.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harmon R (2010) How the market can keep streams flowing. Paper presented at the TEDx Rainier. Seattle, WA, 10 Oct 2010Google Scholar
  11. Ingram H (2011) Beyond universal remedies for good water governance: a political and contextual approach. In: Garrido A, Ingram H (eds) Water for Food in a Changing World. Routledge, New York, pp 241–261Google Scholar
  12. Keskitalo CH, Dannevig H, Hovelsrud G, West JJ, Gerger Swartling Å (2010) Adaptive capacity determinants in developed states: examples from the Nordic countries and Russia. Reg Environ Chang [Online]. doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0182-9
  13. Matthews JH, Wickel BAJ, Freeman S (2011) Converging currents in climate-relevant conservation: water, infrastructure, and institutions. PLoS Biol 9(9):e1001159. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001159 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McDonough W, Braungart M (2002) Cradle to cradle. North Point Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Medema W, McIntosh BS, Jeffrey PJ (2008) From premise to practice: a critical assessment of integrated water resources management. Ecol Soc 13(2):29 [online]. URL: Google Scholar
  16. Meier D (2011) Kosten für Hochwasserschutz steigen massiv. Deutsche Radio Schweiz, 13 Oct 2011Google Scholar
  17. Meinzen-Dick R (2007) Beyond panaceas in water institutions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(39):15200–15205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. OECD (1997) Better understanding our cities: the role of urban indicators. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ParisGoogle Scholar
  19. Ostrom E (2007) A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(39):419–422Google Scholar
  20. Ostrom E (2010) A multi-scale approach to coping with climate change and other collective action problems. Solutions 1(2):27–36 [Online]. Google Scholar
  21. Pearce WB (2002) Systems: schools of thought and traditions of practice. The Fielding Graduate Institute, Santa BarbaraGoogle Scholar
  22. SABMiller (2009) Water futures. Accessed 15 Oct 2011
  23. Slocombe DS (1998) Defining goals and criteria for ecosystem-based management. Environ Manage 22(4):483–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Smit B, Wandel J (2006) Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Glob Environ Chang 16(3):282–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Smith DM, Barchiesi S (2009) Environment as infrastructure – resilience to climate change impacts on water through investments in nature IUCN. Gland, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  26. Sutherland R (2011) The new sweet spot – and how to find it paper presented at the TEDx WWF. Geneva, Switzerland, 13 Oct 2011Google Scholar
  27. Thobani M (1995) Tradable property rights to water: how to improve water use and resolve the water conflicts. Finance & Private Sector Development Note no. 34. World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  28. Tompkins EL, Adger WN (2004) Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance resi­lience to climate change? Ecol Soc 9(2):10 [online]. URL: Google Scholar
  29. Tompkins EL, Adger WN (2005) Defining response capacity to enhance climate change policy. Environ Sci Policy 8:562–571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wales A (2011) The water-food-energy nexus – why everything you consume is connected. Paper presented at the TEDx WWF. Geneva, Switzerland, 13 Oct 2011Google Scholar
  31. Yohe G, Tol RSJ (2002) Indicators for social and economic coping capacity – moving toward a working definition of adaptive capacity. Glob Environ Chang 12(1):25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Group on Climate Change and Climate Impacts Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity of GenevaCarougeSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations