Session 56: Towards livelihood security and social justice: The urbanization, infrastructure and governance nexus


Session Abstract

There is an increasing body of work that illustrates that uneven access to water is attributable to factors such as race, class and gender but shaped by conventional governance regimes that build on large-scale infrastructures and market approaches to water tariffs (Bakker et al. 2006). Understanding and explaining the factors that influence the spatial and social differentiation of access to water and debating how to design better water governance models in an increasingly urban world under conditions of global change were the two primary goals of this session.

These issues essentially reinforce the recurrent social and development challenges in the context of climate change confronting much of the world today. The ‘nexus' approach highlights the interdependence of governance and livelihood security with the natural system that underpins security - in this context, water security. The ‘nexus' debate is primarily about governance, natural resource scarcity (e.g., uneven distribution) and uneven allocation and access to water by the least powerful in society. This session explored the ‘nexus' between rapid urbanization, socio-technical systems (infrastructure) and governance regimes and looked at the connection between these factors and explored how they shape unevenness and injustice in access to water all over the globe. 

Keywords: urbanization, infrastructure, livelihood, water, governance


Key Discussion Points

  • There are many difficulties in enabling behavior change in household practices, e.g., who turns on the heater; or financial competencies. This reflects the complexity of social adaptive capacity in households and organizations that provide services to communities.
  • The conceptualization of cities needs to move beyond urban borders to include peri-urban and rural areas.  Urban areas need to give compensation to areas from which resources, especially water resources, are retrieved.  Cities also must improve their use of water resources from these areas.
  • Disaster risk reduction can be strengthened through the examination of local land-use plans, which can also help improve climate change adaptation efforts.
  • Climate change communication should be framed by different organizations for different users.  The key points of climate change must be communicated in such a way that speaks to the livelihoods of individuals and communities.



Federick Ato Armah, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana

Antje Bruns, Humboldt Universit, Berlin, Germany

Hartmut Fuenfgeld, RMIT University, Melbourne Australia

Mark Pelling, King’s College London, London, UK



Obed Kawanga, NECOS, Lusaka, Zambia

Presentation Title: Urban adaptation to climate change: A case of Madimba settlement, Lusaka, Zambia

Jonathan Barton, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Presentation Title: No picks, no shovels, no helmets: Local governments at the coalface of adaptation to water stress in Chile

Susie Moloney & Hartmut Fuenfgeld, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Presentation Title: Adaptive capacity and climate justice: Reflections on two projects in Victoria, Australia

Patricia Avila-Garcia, UNAM, Morelia, Mexico

Presentation Title: Global change and social conflicts over water in Mexican cities

Riyanti Djalante, Local Government of Kendari City and University of Halu Oleo, Kendari, Indonesia

Presentation Title: Linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the local level: Experience in implementing a resilience city program in Kendari, Indonesia


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