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Title: Is urban-water sustainability possible? : concepts, implementation, and barriers to enhance Integrated Urban Water Management in Mexico City
Author: Garcia Alba Garciadiego, Fernanda
ISNI:       0000 0005 0288 7183
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Water scarcity and climate change events cause constraints in urban environments. Integrated Urban Water Management approaches have emerged to promote alternatives to urban water management and minimise such problems. These approaches have been facing reduced advances in been adopted. Literature has studied this phenomenon using Transition Theory. However, studies have barely focused on the cases when changes in the water systems are promoted by the actors of the existing dominant system (or incumbent-led transitions), while recognising the power and political dynamics in the developing world. This research addresses this gap by study two empirical projects in Mexico City that proposed a change in urban water management. A framework adapted from the Transition Theory was used to clarify power dynamics in the water system in Mexico City, especially the role of actors in maintaining practices or deliver power to sustainable alternatives, represented by urban experiments. Also, this research recognises that the water system in Mexico City had already suffered some adjustments responding to external pressures that led to the introduction of sustainable practices. However, more work in the system structure and other domains (such as transport and conservation or resource management) is needed to make a significant change and introduce integrated approaches properly. The main insights for this thesis are: (i) The recognition of the incumbents ́ role in supporting alternative projects inconsistently as a response to regime ́s external and internal pressures. (ii) Integrated approaches require a multi-regime integration. However, this is challenging due to the complexity of coordinating a large cohort of stakeholders that respond to reduce uncertainty and maintain diverse regimes ́ visions, political-power structures and vested interest. (iii) Incumbents see multi-regime coordination as a risk, so they tend to compete and act in an antagonist manner to maintain resources and power, complicating socio-technical systems coordination. Finally, (iv) incumbent-led sustainable projects require a strict development design and evaluation fostering internal continuity, while external supervision is also required. Hence, the necessity of empowering external actors to the regime. The studied cases evidenced that sustainable projects represent another actor competing for resources, but struggles emerge in different scales and systems, recognising that a strict policy design from several domains is needed. Overall, this research shows that water management is difficult to modify due to the inherent complexity of the interconnected systems rather than a lack of will to change them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available