How are water security and adaptive capacity measured? IWSN researchers produce special issue of ‘Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability’

Back in 2014, a team of University of Arizona (UA) researchers organized a workshop titled ‘Metrics and Measurement of Adaptation: Advances in Water Research in the Arid Americas,’ held at the UA’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy – under the auspices of the AQUASEC Center of Excellence for Water Security.

Two years later, a deliverable of this workshop is a set of 14 articles that comprise a special issue in the high-impact journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. A third of the 39 authors of these 14 articles are researchers in the International Water Security Network. The special issue was edited by Gregg Garfin (Deputy Director for Science Translation and Outreach at the Institute of the Environment and Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and a Udall Center affiliated faculty member), Margaret Wilder (Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Development and at the Center for Latin American Studies, and also a Udall Center affiliated faculty member), and Robert Merideth (Senior Research Associate at the Udall Center and with the López-Hoffman Lab).

Water security and adaptive capacity of water management institutions are considered key to improving water resources use and management worldwide, yet these concepts are difficult to measure and compare across different contexts.  The special issue examines progress in developing and applying metrics. Researchers, practitioners, and other readers can find the current state of knowledge of what it entails to measure water security and adaptive capacity in a range of case studies from around the world.

The articles are:

  1. Moving beyond the adaptation information gap by Margaret Wilder.
  1. Adaptive management and water security in a global context: definitions, concepts, and examples by Robert G Varady, Adriana A Zuñiga-Terán, Gregg M Garfin, Facundo Martín and Sebastian Vicuña.
  1. Towards joint consideration of adaptive capacity and water security: lessons from the arid Americas by Christine J Kirchhoff, Francisco Lara-Valencia, Julie Brugger, Paula Mussetta and Nicolás Pineda-Pablos.
  1. The nexus: reconsidering environmental security and adaptive capacity by Rafael de Grenade, Lily House-Peters, Christopher A Scott, Bhuwan Thapa, Megan Mills-Novoa, Andrea Gerlak and Koen Verbist.
  1. Advancing metrics: models for understanding adaptive capacity and water security by Maria Carmen Lemos, David Manuel-Navarrete, Bram Leo Willems, Rolando Diaz Caravantes and Robert G Varady.
  1. Conceptualizing urban water security in an urbanizing world by Patricia Romero-Lankao and Daniel M Gnatz.
  1. Towards characterizing the adaptive capacity of farmer-managed irrigation systems: learnings from Nepal by Bhuwan Thapa, Christopher Scott, Philippus Wester and Robert Varady.
  1. Developing and applying water security metrics in China: experience and challenges by Fu Sun, Chad Staddon and Minpeng Chen.
  1. Assessing and measuring adaptive capacity: the experiences of African countries in developing meaningful metrics for water management by Bimo Nkhata and Charles Breen.
  1. Paradise lost? The difficulties in defining and monitoring Integrated Water Resources Management Indicators by Olivier Petit.
  1. Drought plans: a proxy measurement of public water supply security in England by Christina Cook.
  1. Institutional attributes for adaptive capacity in federal rivers: moving from principles to indicators by Dustin E Garrick and Lucia De Stefano.
  1. Metrics of water security, adaptive capacity, and agroforestry in Indonesia by Meine van Noordwijk, Yeon-Su Kim, Beria Leimona, Kurniatun Hairiah and LA Fisher.
  1. Metrics for assessing adaptive capacity and water security: Common challenges, diverging contexts, emerging consensus by Gregg Garfin, Christopher A Scott, Margaret Wilder, Robert G Varady and Robert Merideth.

The workshop was the capstone of a NOAA-funded effort, Managing Demand and Rethinking Supply, for which Margaret Wilder was Principal Investigator, and Gregg Garfin and Robert Varady were co-Principal Investigators. The workshop and special issue were supported by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, Lloyd’s Register Foundation International Water Security Network, Climate Assessment for the Southwest of the UA Institute of the Environment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience (HI-AWARE) consortium led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.