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Standards Applied to Water Use: An Attempt to Build up Normative Indicators

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Arnaud Büchs
Arnaud Büchs Ph.D. Student in Water Economics LEPII, Laboratoire d’Economie de la Production et de l’Intégration Internationale Université Pierre Mendès France, BP 47 – 38040 Grenoble, Cedex 9, France Email: arnaud.buchs@upmf-grenoble.fr Tel: +33

Keyword(s): Water, Standards, Indicators, Water Needs, Sustainable Development, Water Stress
Article:
AbstractIntroduction Climate change, demographic concentration, new needs, sustainable development etc. are many examples of uncontrolled mutations in space and time, which impact on the degree of satisfaction of water needs in the world, and which call for a new analysis of the water issue. This renewal implies a furthering in the knowledge of these questions in this context of increased uncertainties. It means, first, to have understood and assimilated the crucial role played by water in the natural, social, economic, cultural and political environment, by having identified the links which define Men-Water relations. Second, analysing the current water standards implies that we adopt the representation of reality they provide as a reading grid. Furthermore, it is also a way to wonder whether this grid corresponds to the future reality of human societies. Considering so would mean repeating the present development schemes. Not considering so would bring about a new approach, looking for new dynamic decision-making tools adapted to the realities of each field, in order to take into account present needs, as well as future ones. This process is in keeping with the premises of development strategies in a perspective of sustainable development. Objective This paper aims to improve water needs’ indicators, by linking them with development scenarios. Could current known and quantified uses become local, or maybe national, standards? Could they be representative as thresholds discriminating relative abundance or shortage in accordance with the present and the future water availability of a given population, country or region? Method The main indicators (Falkenmark’s Water Stress Index, Sullivan’s Water Poverty Index etc.) remain too general and static. This means we should discuss: - the limits and the gaps which prevent them from taking into account a country’s or a population’s hydraulic reality; - the question to know whether an identified water use can be considered as a standard in a natural and social environment, specific to each case; - the opportunity of a multidisciplinary method. The goal is to set the first steps to a new methodology based on water needs. Results We expect that the confrontation between, on the one hand, water needs and, on the other hand, water uses’ standards – as tools which allow to organize and shape the representations of water itself, and its political, social, economic and technical modalities of appropriation and affectation to competitive or non-competitive uses – will create a new kind of indicators. Conclusion By proposing a new methodology to link water resources and water requirements and by highlighting the centrality of standards, this paper tries to open perspectives in favour of needs-based water management.
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