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Changing Global Water Management Landscape

In the sixteenth century, the eminent Renaissance scholar Leonardo Da Vinci said that water is the driver of nature. During his lifetime, some may have considered this to be an overstatement, but some half a millennium later, Leonardo’s understanding of the role, relevance and importance of water to society and nature can be considered to have been prophetic. Water is increasingly considered to be the lifeblood of the planet and, at present, it will certainly not be an overstatement to claim that without efficient water management, the future social and economic development of the world would be seriously constrained, or even significantly jeopardised. Both developed and developing countries will require implementation of more and more efficient water management policies and practices in terms of both quantity and quality. However, developing countries will need to improve their water management practices and processes much more than developed countries, especially as the current practices of the former have significant potential for improvement.

Asit K. Biswas, Cecilia Tortajada

More Urban and More Aged: Demographic Pressures to Global Water Resources by 2050

Population growth has largely been considered as the ultimate driver for the sustainability challenges of our planet’s development. Whereas this assumption is not totally wrong, the demographic pressure on this planet is a far more complex issue than mere growth and has many important facets. It is, for instance, very interesting to look at populations that do not grow but instead stay constant or even decline. On the world scale, the population is still growing, but the growth occurs only in certain geographical regions. In other regions, the primary demographic processes are the aging of the population and urbanisation.

Olli Varis

Water and the Next Generation – Towards a More Consistent Approach

The water cycle is the bloodstream of both biosphere and human society. Every human body contains some 70% water, which has to be partly renewed every day. The body does not function when the water content diminishes too much. Water – although chemically simple – is a highly complex substance with many different functions: health, income generation, energy production, biomass production, habitat and carrier functions.

Malin Falkenmark

Adaptive Water Management: Strengthening Laws and Institutions to Cope with Uncertainty

We live in a complex world full of uncertainty. This is particularly true of hydrological systems and the myriad other factors affecting water management. The nonlinear nature of the hydrologic cycle is well documented (Gleick, 1987; Lewin, 1992; Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 2006; Ruhl, 1997). As the debate on climate change and climate change models illustrates, it can be notoriously difficult to develop models that accurately reflect the hydrologic cycle and the factors that affect it, even when phalanxes of the world’s leading scientists and computer modellers focus their attention on the task (IPCC, 2007a).

Carl Bruch

In Search of a Comprehensive Approach to Sustainable Management of Water Resources in the World Community

Water resource use has exploded in the past century and a half, and there is no end in sight in this trend. The Malthusian race between population increase and food production has heavily stressed water resources. Urbanisation has been impacting critically on water consumption, spreading rapidly to the developing world in recent decades. Industrial consumption of water resources, including indirect consumption in such a form as electricity, has become a salient feature of the modern world.

Kazuo Takahashi

Science, Ideology and Sustainable Development: An Actor-Oriented Approach

A number of unsustainable trends concerning land, water and air can be observed locally, regionally and globally (European Environment Agency, 2005). Scientific method in a traditional sense of positivism has a role in making such observations and measurements visible. Natural science contributes to our understanding of climate change issues, water shortages of specific qualities or land degradation. Also social sciences have a role in relation to sustainable development (SD). In addition to the focus on specific environmental and natural resource (or ecosystem) parameters, we should focus on individuals and organisations as actors. How do specific individuals as actors understand ‘sustainable development’ and how do they perceive their own roles in relation to SD? These kinds of questions are as relevant for water specialists as for other actors.

Peter Söderbaum

Leading and Managing Change in Water Reform Processes Capacity Building Through Human Resource Development

The chapter sets out by describing the highly dynamic and complex environment in which organisations in the water sector have to operate today. Section 2 shows the dynamic and consequent change as a persistent paradigm, which is in need of leadership. Leadership sets the necessary framework to adapt to these changes at an organisational level and yet remain faithful to one’s values. Steering change processes become, therefore, a core competence of leadership. Section 3 takes us on a journey into practical experience. The examples of a national and a regional water agency show typical patterns of reaction to change. It shows gaps in management and leadership that can be addressed by capacity building.

Hans Pfeifer

The European Water Framework Directive: Potential for Change and Implications Beyond 2020

The problem of water stress and water quality is one of the main environmental issues in Europe, together with climate change, air quality, biodiversity and soil quality. With respect to water quantity, withdrawal of water resources in Europe is above 20% of renewable freshwater resources. The major pressures on water quantities occur during summer in southern countries because of irrigation demand and tourism activities. In the coming decades, the likely increase of withdrawals and climatic change will result in more intensive pressures on water quantities in these southern countries.

José Albiac, Juan Ramó Murua

Towards a Climate-Proof Netherlands

There is no doubt about it: the climate is changing and the effects are now tangible and predictable. Scientific research has shown that even if we make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), climate change cannot be prevented. Which is why we have to adapt to make the effects of the changing climate acceptable: the Netherlands must be made climate-proof.

Michiel van Drunen, Aalt Leusink, Ralph Lasage

The Strategic Role of Water in Alleviating the Human Tragedy Associated with HIV/AIDS in Africa

The continuing HIV/AIDS pandemic across sub-Saharan Africa has had an enormous impact on societies, and the number of people dying from AIDS-related diseases has reached truly alarming levels in several countries. The series of adverse impacts appears likely to continue – especially in southern Africa – where HIV prevalence rates have reached heights seen nowhere else in the world, and little evidence is available to suggest that national prevalence rates have declined in real terms (Van Dyk, 2001; Walker et al. 2004; Marais, 2005; UNAIDS, 2006a). The situation has been worsened in recent months by the emergence of a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, one of the opportunistic diseases of HIV/AIDS, which has now placed an increased health burden on people in southern Africa.

Jeanette Rascher, Peter Ashton, Anthony Turton

Irrigation and Water Policies in Aragon

The major advances of irrigation in Spain, and within the autonomous community of Aragon, basically took place during the twentieth century, the second half in particular. Nevertheless, major developments in Aragon that were included in plans that date from the beginning of the twentieth century – basically the Bardenas System (

) and the Upper Aragon Irrigation Systems (

) – have yet to be implemented.

José Francisco Aranda-Martín

Singapore Water: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Singapore is a small island nation with a total land area of about 700 km2, or 65% the size of the city of Zaragoza. However, the population in Singapore is 4.6 million, about 6.5 times that of Zaragoza. The result is a densely populated city that exerts great pressure on competing land uses such as housing, commerce, industry, transport, recreation, schools and universities and, on top of these, water catchments. With no natural aquifers or groundwater, Singapore is considered one of the waterscarce countries. UN studies (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2006) have ranked Singapore 170th among 190 countries in terms of fresh water availability. This is not due to the lack of rainfall (which averages 2400mm/year) but rather because of our limited land to catch the rainfall and also because of our increasing population.

Teng Chye Khoo

The Pace of Change in Seawater Desalination by Reverse Osmosis

For many years desalination was regarded as a process the application of which was, on the whole, restricted to the Middle East and a few island communities around the world where rainfall or collection areas to harvest rainfall were insufficient to sustain the local population’s needs. The first generation of desalination equipment was generally a thermal-based, evaporative process, and water produced by this type of desalination process was regarded as being extremely expensive in comparison to the cost of potable water produced in areas having access to natural supplies of freshwater.

Ian Lomax


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