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Water Governance in Chile and Canada: a Comparison of Adaptive Characteristics

Margot A. Hurlbert, University of Regina
Harry Diaz, University of Regina

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06148-180461

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Abstract

We compare the structures and adaptive capacities of water governance regimes that respond to water scarcity or drought in the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) of western Canada and the Elqui River Basin (EB) in Chile. Both regions anticipate climate change that will result in more extreme weather events including increasing droughts. The SSRB and the EB represent two large, regional, dryland water basins with significant irrigated agricultural production but with significantly different governance structures. The Canadian governance situation is characterized as decentralized multilevel governance with assigned water licenses; the Chilean is characterized as centralized governance with privatized water rights. Both countries have action at all levels in relation to water scarcity or drought.
This structural comparison is based on studies carried out in each region assessing the adaptive capacity of each region to climate variability in the respective communities and applicable governance institutions through semistructured qualitative interviews. Based on this comparison, conclusions are drawn on the adaptive capacity of the respective water governance regimes based on four dimensions of adaptive governance that include: responsiveness, learning, capacity, including information, leadership, and equity. The result of the assessment allows discussion of the significant differences in terms of ability of distinct governance structures to foster adaptive capacity in the rural sector, highlights the need for a better understanding of the relationship of adaptive governance and good governance, and the need for more conceptual work on the interconnections of the dimensions of adaptive governance.

Key words

adaptive governance; climate change; extreme weather; water governance
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087