A water-function-based framework for understanding and governing water resilience in the Anthropocene


The freshwater cycle over land is fundamental for sustainability and resilience, yet is extensively modified and shaped by a vast range of human interventions in the land, water, and climate systems. The consequences of human water-cycle modifications can be non-linear, delayed, and distributed across boundaries, sectors, and scale. This complexity renders freshwater challenges difficult to govern and manage. We here propose a framework for understanding water's many functions for supporting, regulating, and stabilizing hydro-climatic, hydro-ecological, and hydro-social systems.

This framework recognizes human impacts on major partitioning points, interactions among water functions, and stabilization and destabilization processes. A functional understanding of the freshwater cycle can integrate with social-ecological resilience-building principles, complement existing water sustainability governance approaches, and highlight the potential need for Earth-system-level governance of water. Recognizing water's diverse functional roles for resilience may promote a new generation of holistic and integrative water-land-climate governance.


Link to centre authors: Wang Erlandsson, Lan
Publication info: Falkenmark, M., Wang-Erlandsson, L., 2021. One Earth, Volume 4, Issue 2, 19 February 2021, Pages 213-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2021.01.009