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

Listed author(s):
  • Kallis, Giorgos

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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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921-8009(08)00346-7
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (February)
Pages: 796-809

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:4:p:796-809
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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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. 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.
  4. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
  5. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
  6. Kallis, Giorgos, 2007. "When is it coevolution?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-6, April.
  7. 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.
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