Public problematization of water supply and the risk of scarcity

Public problematization of water supply and the risk of scarcity

Author: Franzisca Weder – University of Queensland, School of Communication and Arts, Australia

Denise Voci – Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt

By 2025, half of the world’s population, which is 1.8 billion people, will be living in water-stressed areas and an estimated two-thirds of the world population will be confronted with the unavailability of sufficient (drinking) water to meet their own needs (WHO, 2015; UN, 2014). Water supply and water scarcity are complex, sometimes abstract, global as well as very specific, local and regional problems, which often have invisible symptoms and require long-term solutions.

As often mentioned in the sustainability debate (see Dade & Hassenzahl, 2013; Allen, 2016; Godeman & Michelsen as an example), the key to sustainable development is that an issue is problematized in the public and stakeholders are involved in consumption/use, maintenance, cost recovery, and continuing support to realize sustainable resource management.

Whereas dry countries and regions (USA/California, Southern & Western Europe or Australia) are constantly facing water scarcity as one of the major effects of climate change, water-rich countries (Central Europe, Canada or New Zealand) seem to be not directly affected by physical scarcity of water. But interistingly enough, there seems no difference regarding the degree of problematization and therewith awareness of water scarcity as a “problem”.

The question for us is how to stimulate the power of public deliberation and conversations about enablers and barriers of sustainable water supply with evidence based information & data – even in countries where water scarcity is not an experienced reality yet or strategically kept away from the public agenda?

In our visual talk we will offer a video clip with some “impressive” bits of qualitative interviews which were conducted in Australia & across Europe in 2015-2017 with farmers, irrigators, politicans, activists, scientists and lay persons, pointing out the problem of individual numbness as well as unconsciousness in water consumption and conservation and the missing link to sustainability.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices