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Coevolution in water resource development: The vicious cycle of water supply and demand in Athens, Greece

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  • Kallis, Giorgos

Abstract

This paper adopts a coevolutionary perspective to criticize the dominant narratives of water resource development. Such narratives of progress portray a sequence of improving water technologies that overcame environmental constraints, supplying more water to satisfy the demands of growing populations for better living. Water supply appears as the response to an insatiable demand, exogenous to the water system. Instead, as the history of water in Athens, Greece illustrates water supply and demand in fact coevolve, new supply generating higher demands, and in turn, higher demands favouring supply expansion over other alternatives. This vicious cycle expands the water footprint of cities degrading environments and communities in the countryside. Far from being predetermined and inevitable, as progressive narratives wants it, water resource development has been contingent on geographical and environmental conditions, institutional struggles, accidents, experiments and external geo-political and technological forces. In the last part of this paper, I discuss the policy implications of this coevolutionary reframing with respect to a the transition to a "soft water path".

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  • Kallis, Giorgos, 2010. "Coevolution in water resource development: The vicious cycle of water supply and demand in Athens, Greece," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 796-809, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:4:p:796-809
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    1. Adger, W. Neil, 1999. "Evolution of economy and environment: an application to land use in lowland Vietnam," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 365-379, December.
    2. Norgaard, Richard B., 2005. "Bubbles in a back eddy: A commentary on "The origin, diagnostic attributes and practical application of coevolutionary theory"," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 362-365, September.
    3. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
    4. Aguilera-Klink, Federico & Perez-Moriana, Eduardo & Sanchez-Garcia, Juan, 2000. "The social construction of scarcity. The case of water in Tenerife (Canary Islands)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 233-245, August.
    5. Winder, Nick & McIntosh, Brian S. & Jeffrey, Paul, 2005. "The origin, diagnostic attributes and practical application of co-evolutionary theory," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 347-361, September.
    6. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
    7. Kallis, Giorgos, 2007. "When is it coevolution?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-6, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ríos-Núñez, Sandra M. & Coq-Huelva, Daniel & García-Trujillo, Roberto, 2013. "The Spanish livestock model: A coevolutionary analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 342-350.
    2. Marletto, Gerardo, 2012. "Which conceptual foundations for environmental policies? An institutional and evolutionary framework of economic change," MPRA Paper 36441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Gerardo Marletto, 2012. "Which Conceptual Foundations For Environmental Policies? An Institutional And Evolutionary Framework Of Economic Change," Working Papers 0112, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2012.
    4. Thiel, Andreas, 2012. "The politics of problem solving: A co-evolutionary perspective on the recent scalar reorganisation of water governance in Germany," UFZ Discussion Papers 09/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    5. Kallis, Giorgos & Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Coevolutionary ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 690-699, February.
    6. Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh & Giorgos Kallis, 2009. "Evolutionary Policy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    7. Paavola, Jouni, 2011. "Reprint of: Sewage Pollution and Institutional and Technological Change in the United States, 1830-1915," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 1289-1296, May.

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