Ecology and Society
The perceptions of what is required for sustainable water resources management and sustainability science in general have undergone major changes over the past decade. Initially, water resources management followed an instrumental “prediction and control” approach, dominated by technical end-of-pipe solutions. Pollution control, for example, relied primarily on waste water treatment instead of source control, and flood management was based on dykes and reservoirs rather than non-structural measures such as land-use zoning. This approach has yielded important results, but it came at a price. In many places, the natural dynamics of the river environment have been destroyed. Moreover, this approach no longer works very well. It cannot adequately deal with the growing uncertainties, increasing rates of change, different stakeholder perspectives, and growing interdependence that are characteristic for today’s resource management issues. What we need then is a new understanding of sustainable water resource management as a societal search and learning process (e.g., Pahl-Wostl 2002, Wals 2007).
Pahl-Wostl, C., E. Mostert, and D. Tàbara. 2008. The growing importance of social learning in water resources management and sustainability science. Ecology and Society 13(1): 24.