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Water Security: Concept, Measurement, Operationalization And Application In Arid Northwest China

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Chansheng He (Kalamazoo, USA), Lanhui Zhang, Xifeng Zhang, Jie Tian, Xin Jin, Jinlin LI
2College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University1, Key Laboratory of West China’s Environmental System, Lanzhou University2

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 1: Water supply and demand,
AbstractRapid population growth, fast urbanization, increasing economic expansion, drastic land cover alterations, and climate change have resulted in a global water crisis. Worldwide, approximately 2.6 billion people lack access to safe drinking water supply and improved sanitation, and water-associated diseases cause serious illness of over 300 million people each year, and by 2025 over 3.5 billion people will have water shortages. The World Economic Forum defines water supply crisis as one of the top 5 crises facing the globe in the next 10 years. To address the water crisis, researchers, practitioners, and decision makers have developed a number of water resources concepts and programs during the past decades, such as supply management, demand management, and integrated water resources management (IWRM), and water security, etc. Traditionally, supply management has played a major role in meeting the increasing demands for water, through extending the withdrawals of the total amount of raw water or increasing the production and delivery of purified water to meet the multiple demands in a region. Demand management emphasizes managing demands for water by institutional approaches and water saving technology such as water pricing, water market, conservation, and efficiency improvement etc. The IWRM, defined as systematic consideration of water supplies and water demands, natural and human systems, and upstream and downstream linkages in development and implementation of water resources policies and decisions, as well as stakeholder participation in water resource management processes has been accepted globally. Since the 1990s, water security has assumed an increasingly prominent position in the international water resources arena. Despite its increasing use in water resources research and policy documents, the concept of the water security remains largely multi- dimensional and unstandardized . This paper first reviews the definitions, measurement, and operationalization of the water security, to bring a parallel paradigm to the integrated water resources management. Water security provides a framework to achieve end goal - water security for both human society and ecosystems, with quantifiable thresholds. Successful implementation of water security in any community or geographic region must address the seven common elements: (1) whose values are to be secured? (2) for which values? (3) how much security? (4) from what threats? (5) by what means? (6) at what cost? and (7) at what time period? Subsequently, the paper discusses application and challenges of water security in arid Northwest China.
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