Processes and Pathways to Water Sensitive Cities

(2009 – current)
Yvette Bettini

This PhD research explores the ways the urban water sector of three Australian cities have been adjusting to ongoing drought conditions over the last 10 years.
The research aims to identify the ways and means the practice of water management has changed, by understanding the interplay between the formal institutional setting and informal institutions (such as shared meanings, behaviours and problem frames), which underpin these practices. Understanding this adaptive capacity of urban water institutions will provide insight and recommendations on how water management can be carried out under a more flexible and adaptive framework, to better accommodate extremes like drought and flood in urban water governance arrangements.

The cities of Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane are used as cases to explore institutional adaptation, as their urban water sectors respond to drought and flood. This context of extreme conditions heightens the adjustments and activities occurring within the urban water institutions of these cities and offers a unique window to identify and explore these more tacitly known change processes.

Drawing on existing knowledge in transitions, policy sciences, environmental governance, and socio-ecological systems literatures, and using empirical insights from these cases, a clearer understanding of the mechanisms by which urban water institutions adapt overtime will be described.

This work will ultimately develop recommendations to help decision-makers working at a strategic level to map and strategise routes toward a more sustainable urban water management through building and supporting this inherent adaptive process.

Project Partner:
This research is supported by the Western Australian Department of Water.

Prof Rebekah Brown and Dr Megan Farrelly

Publications (link)

Urban Water FuturesUrban Water Governance Program