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WIREs Water

Critical approaches to urban water governance: from critique to justice, democracy, and transdisciplinary collaboration

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As global urban regions grow and transform, water systems present a unique set of challenges to stakeholders. Municipalities often struggle to pay for and maintain aging infrastructure as well as create equitable access for growing populations—especially in the rapidly urbanizing Global South. Critical approaches to urban water governance have made tremendous contributions to our collective knowledge of how these systems work. In this study, we argue that the most important direction for these approaches to urban water governance is to translate the insights generated by critique into the positive project to construct more just and democratic systems and practices of governance. However, we contend that in order to do this work, critical scholarship on urban water governance will need to continue deepening its engagement with two larger sets of debates. First, to help realize more just and democratic systems, it will need to grapple with the complex dimensions of debates on how to theorize and conceptualize justice and democracy. Second, in order to create effective alternatives to current paradigms of water governance, it will need to show how recent conceptualizations of urban water as hybrid or heterogeneous assemblage can help build truly transdisciplinary collaborations. We explore these debates through a review of recent critical approaches to urban water governance, with attention to ways forward that embrace epistemological pluralism and transdisciplinary collaboration. WIREs Water 2015, 2:85–96. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1066

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Engineering Water > Planning Water
Engineering Water
Human Water
Human Water > Water Governance

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