ID28: Highland-lowland systems in water management and resilient societies
Global mountains play an important role as “˜water towers' supplying 60-80% of the Earth's fresh water. However, future water provision is not guaranteed as water availability from mountains is threatened by human activities, including climate change. There is limited understanding of the highly complex dynamics of highland-lowland social, political, cultural/ethnic and economic interdependencies and interactions and their effects on water availability. These dynamics have consequences on water management within and beyond the boundaries of mountain regions. In addition, mountains and their water resources are often located in transboundary contexts which complicates water management and can lead to conflict between competing users.
This multidisciplinary session provides space for discussion and exchange on topics including (but not limited to): risk assessments, climate change adaptation, impact of extreme events, transboundary water management, community resilience, climate transformation/transition, policy and water governance in mountainous areas.
Abstract ID 173 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:00 – 16:10 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
Flaminio, Silvia; Reynard, Emmanuel; Savoy, Andréa; Nahrath, Stéphane
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Keywords: Climate Change Adaptation, Dam Reservoirs, Water Management, Swiss Alps, Imaginaries
Dam reservoirs have been built throughout the 20th century in the Swiss Alps to produce electricity. In the context of climate change, scientists, water stakeholders and politicians have expressed concerns regarding the future of water resources in Switzerland long considered to be a 'water tower' (e.g., Milano et al., 2015), and discussions have been engaged on the (re)operation of hydropower reservoirs (Brunner et al., 2019; Thut et al., 2016). Could such reservoirs fulfil other purposes notably during droughts (e.g., irrigation, drinking water supply, artificial snow production)? If so, could these reservoirs mitigate droughts on a local scale (i.e., in the highlands) or on a regional scale (i.e., water transfers from the highlands to the lowlands)? Recent studies have suggested that dam reservoir reoperation could be an interesting adaptation strategy to climate change in the Swiss Alps (Brunner et al., 2019). In this paper, we investigate the way multipurpose use of hydropower dam reservoirs is envisioned and imagined (Davis, 2011; Jasanoff, 2015) by different stakeholders in Switzerland and Valais Canton. We rely on interviews with water and energy stakeholders (nine on a federal level, and eight in Valais) and academics (n=7), and on a corpus of strategic documents on water and energy (n=68). To analyze these materials, and identify imaginaries relating to multipurpose reservoirs, we used the 'hydrosocial cycle' framework (Budds et al., 2014), which invites us to consider the relationships between water (in its physical dimensions), infrastructure, and the social structure (notably power relations). We show that while all stakeholders expressed concerns regarding future hydrological conditions, they did not share the same views regarding the multipurpose use of dam reservoirs. We identified three main imaginaries: (1) the first is inherited from the early days of hydropower development and supports hydropower above all other uses and carries little vision of multipurpose reservoirs; (2) the second relates to the development of integrated water management and views multipurpose reservoirs as an interesting option for the future; (3) the third is dubious of the capacity of multipurpose reservoirs to address social and environmental challenges such as climate change. We show how these imaginaries are mobilized on different scales. In Valais, the second imaginary is dominant; it is even endorsed by some actors of the hydropower sector who have integrated concerns of other water use sectors (e.g., irrigation, tourism). Finally, we discuss factors which contribute to these diverging imaginaries.
Abstract ID 913 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:10 – 16:20 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
Beltran-Pena, Areidy Aracely (1); Rhoades, Alan (2); D'Odorico, Paolo (1); Girotto, Manuela (1)
1: University of California Berkeley, United States of America
2: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, United States of America
Keywords: Climate Change, Impacts, Agriculture, Low-To-No Snow Future, California, Sierra Nevada
Mountain regions are important assets as the world's water towers in the Earth system. In the western United States, where nearly 75% of freshwater originates as snow in the Sierra Nevada, Rocky, and Cascade mountain ranges, over 90% of snow monitoring sites show declines in snowpack and earlier melting times. This is projected to continue and possibly accelerate into the mid-to-end of the 21st century. California is the largest agricultural producer in the United States and the country's largest agricultural exporter. However, California's snow-dependent basins are actively threatened by anthropogenic climate change, which will reduce freshwater availability from snow in the Sierra Nevada and in turn could significantly affect crop yields. Although previous studies have assessed the impacts of droughts and changes in precipitation on agriculture, few have focused specifically on quantifying the projected impacts of declining snowmelt on crop production. We are developing a framework combing the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM), satellite observations, and a crop water model to determine the direct dependence of agricultural production in California's Central Valley on snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains and assess the future vulnerability of the water-food nexus under climate change.
Abstract ID 918 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:20 – 16:30 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
Martín Civantos, José María; Correa Jiménez, Elena; Román Punzón, Julio Miguel; Bonet García, Teresa; Abellán Santisteban, José; Modrego Fernández, Roque; Ramos Rodríguez, Blas; Peralta Martínez, Rubén; Couto González, Sergio
MEMOLab – Laboratory of Biocultural Archaeology – University of Granada, Spain
Keywords: Traditional Irrigation Systems, Water, Governance, Empowerment, Irrigation Communities
The Traditional and Historical Irrigation Systems (T&HIS) of Sierra Nevada range (South Spain) are communal water management and governance systems, documented as far back as the 9th century.
The MEMOLab, has been researching and empowering T&HIS in the Sierra Nevada range (Southern Spain) for more than 10 years based on bottom-up collaboration with the local irrigation communities governing these communal systems. Research has shown the social and environmental resilience and sustainability inherent to these systems: T&HIS follow the approaches of integrated water resource management, nature-based solutions, and the recovery of ancestral Local Traditional Knowledge for water management. Additionally, results have pointed out the current water management and governance problems that threaten both the environment and its resources, including climate change (decreasing rainfall and temperature increase), rural depopulation, insufficient governance and policy implementation at supra-local scale, power imbalance between water stakeholders leading to water grabbing, and increasing demand.
At the local level, our project work is based on bottom-up collaborations with local irrigation communities governing these systems to pass 5 years governance and management plans, sign supporting agreements with local administrations and institutionalize their relations with other stakeholders based on social and environmental sustainability and resilience.
At a higher scale (e. g. river or basin scale) on one hand we are facilitating collective plans involving several irrigation communities. The aim is to gain recognition for those mountain communities practicing WS&H from those communities downstream benefiting from the T&HIS upstream, while institutionalizing mutual support agreements. Another key goal is to empower and underline the legitimacy of T&HIS as decision makers at supra-local scale and balance the power inequities with other speculative or unsustainable water uses. On the other hand, we are adapting the concept of River Contract: voluntary contractual agreements for water territorial and sectoral planning. River Contracts represent innovative fora and Social Innovation processes for allowing public government bodies and settled communities to participate in governance, management and conservation of water/river ecosystems and territories.
Empowering T&HIS and replicating some of its key local approaches at higher landscape scales have a huge potential to mitigate current water management and governance problems in Sierra Nevada but, even more important, this approach based on bottom-up social contracts can be replicated in other Mediterranean mountainous areas and elsewhere.
This work is part of Smart EcoMountains, the Thematic Center on Mountain Ecosystems of LifeWatch-ERIC.
Abstract ID 708 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:30 – 16:40 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
Dukpa, Rinchu Doma
Wageningen University and Research, India
Keywords: Dams, Conflicts, Resistance, Environmental-Justice, Indigenous Communities, Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim.
Sikkim in the Indian Eastern Himalaya – a sovereign Kingdom merged with India in 1975 – has witnessed a systematically planned and aggressively executed large and mega dam development on the Teesta River for over four decades. Rigorously undertaken by the Government of India (federal) and Government of Sikkim (provincial) in joint-partnership with private energy companies, dam development has been fiercely resisted in Sikkim by the local indigenous communities, particularly in its North District. While some anti-dam resistance culminated into a wider "social movement" capturing national and global attention, most remained locally confined within the dam-affected-areas across the tiny state. What is important to note here is that in none of these dam-affected-areas of struggle, issues regarding displacement and rehabilitation, common in anti-dam contestations elsewhere, became relevant. Rather contestations and dam-conflict have revolved (and continue to) around the issues related to land rights, indigeneity, identities, and territoriality, infact even less about the water, its impoundment in the large dam, and other environmental consequences pertinent in the wake of visible climate change manifestations in the high mountainous terrains of Sikkim Himalaya. Equally important to note is the presence of strong networks of pro-dam supporters and pro-dam mobilisations from none other than the project affected landowners belonging to the same indigenous communities awaiting and(or) aspiring for decades old "promises" of economic benefits and opportunities from dam development, that have intensively exacerbated dam conflicts and contestation in the region. A complex web of hydropower development conflict has thus perpetuated across the three regions of North District for decades which remains the focus of this paper. Each of these cases in Dzongu, Chungthang; and Lachen and Lachung exhibiting a unique place-based anti-dam contestations and outcomes, yet alarmingly similar struggles for legitimacy over decision making regarding dam development. This paper analyses the three case studies with diverse social response to large dams to examine how, on the ground the anti-dam resistance movements by various indigenous communities engage with the notions of environmental justice in mobilising collective actions? Whose voice counts and prevails in building the visible contestation on hydropower development and resistance against the Government and power companies; and whose voice and participation remain unheard and invisible in the decision-making processes as well as in the articulation of the struggle itself. What then are its implication in terms of water governance and sustainable development goals envisioned for such high mountain region and its communities?
Abstract ID 659 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:40 – 16:50 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
Cocuccioni, Silvia (1); Sambo, Beatrice (1,2,3); Terzi, Stefano (1,4); Carnelli, Fabio (1); Pittore, Massimiliano (1); Bertoldi, Giacomo (1); Critto, Andrea (2); Torresan, Silvia (3); Zebisch, Marc (1)
1: Eurac Research, Bolzano, Italy
2: University of Ca' Foscari, Venezia Mestre, Italy
3: Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (Fondazione CMCC), Lecce, Italy.
4: United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Bonn, Germany
Keywords: Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem Nexus, Wefe, System Analysis, Adige, Italy
The Alps play a crucial role in sustaining the socio-economic wellbeing of the people living in lowland regions. In particular, a wide range of sectors rely on water, amongst them energy production, agriculture, industry, tourism and ecosystems. Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystems are inextricably linked within a complex system: the WEFE nexus. As water is a resource shared across sectors, its upstream-downstream exploitation often leads to disputes and tensions connected to its management and governance.
An example of a complex WEFE system is the Adige River basin, with the river flowing from the Italian Alps through six provinces, characterized by a complex governance and fragmented water management responsibilities. Throughout the basin, economic sectors historically developed in conditions of abundant water resources with tensions arising in case of decreased water availability especially in the context of climatic and socio-economic future scenarios.
Although sectoral data and models to improve water management are widely available, a siloed perspective still confines and hampers the implementation of an integrated model able to address the complex cross-sector and geographic WEFE interrelations. Mainstream nexus frameworks focus mainly on the water, energy and food sectors, while the role of ecosystems is usually overlooked. Moreover, existing studies on the Adige basin only consider dual interactions instead of addressing the full complex system. This challenge is reflected also in policies which are designed without comprehensively considering sectoral synergies and their impact on the whole WEFE nexus.
In this context, this study aims at adopting a WEFE Nexus approach, applying an interdisciplinary methodological framework, developed within the H2020 project Nexogenesis, launched in September 2021 and ending in 2025. To comprehend and tackle the WEFE nexus as a whole, the implemented approach integrates i) participatory processes, to analyse the institutional and political context, as well as to map current and future interconnections between sectors, involving local stakeholders; ii) modelling activities, aimed at spatially-temporally and quantitively assessing resource flows across sectors, improving available hydrological models, incorporating long-term climate projections and sectoral water demand. This allows to pinpoint unbalanced supply-demand conditions as well as challenges and conflicts which may arise in the future.
Finally, further activities within the Nexogenesis project will exploit the potential of artificial intelligence tools aimed at providing a better understanding of the impact of policies on the WEFE nexus, to facilitate coherent water-related policies and to achieve resource use efficiency, leverage synergies, and promote sectoral cooperation.
Abstract ID 273 | Date: 2022-09-13 16:50 – 17:00 | Type: Oral Presentation | Place: SOWI – Seminar room SR3 |
North Bengal University, India
Keywords: Transboundary Rivers, Water Cooperation, Hydro-Diplomacy, Energy Trade
Transboundary water management issues in the Himalayas often turn problematic due to a lack of equity in water management. However, the partnership between India and Bhutan has so far evaded imbroglios in water resource management. Bhutan, located in the highlands of the upper catchment of Brahmaputra is drained by several transboundary rivers that flow through Indian lowlands. All the major highland rivers of Bhutan have immense hydropower potential. The role of hydropower development in raising Bhutan's GDP had been crucial. To strengthen the bilateral relation and procure energy resources India took the initiative to develop hydropower in Bhutan. Indo-Bhutan water cooperation and collaboration in developing hydroelectric projects may be analyzed in three phases. The first phase began with the implementation of the first development plan of Bhutan that was prepared with the help of India in 1961. The second phase of water cooperation started with the fifth plan in 1981 which paved the way for Bhutan's economic elevation by means of hydropower. The third phase in Indo-Bhutan water cooperation began with the enactment of Bhutan's Electricity Act in 2001 whereby Bhutan exhibited a considerable amount of self-sufficiency in the hydropower sector. In a trade-off, India purchased hydropower from Bhutan at a reasonable rate to meet the power deficit in its border states. Thus, the highland-lowland cooperation in developing the hydropower resources in Bhutan has been a win-win situation for both partners.