An Earth system law perspective on governing social-hydrological systems in the Anthropocene
The global hydrological cycle is characterized by complex interdependencies and self-regulating feedbacks that keep water in an ever-evolving state of flux at local, regional, and global levels. Increasingly, the scale of human impacts in the Anthropocene is altering the dynamics of this cycle, which presents additional challenges for water governance. “Earth system law” provides an important approach for addressing gaps in governance that arise from the mismatch between the global hydrological cycle and dispersed regulatory architecture across institutions and geographic regions.
In this article, we articulate the potential for Earth system law to account for core hydrological problems that complicate water governance, including delay, redistribution, intertwinements, permanence, and scale. Through merging concepts from Earth system law with existing policy and legal principles, we frame an approach for addressing hydrological problems in the Anthropocene and strengthening institutional fit between established governance systems and the global hydrological cycle.
We discuss how such an approach can be applied, and the challenges and implications for governing water as a cycle and complex social-hydrological system, both in research and practice.
Research news | 2021-12-16
Freshwater biodiversity must be given a higher priority
Research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity is lagging behind. Researchers propose 15 priorities to improve knowledge on biodiversity in lakes, rivers, ponds and wetlands
Research news | 2021-12-14
Turning tension into transformation
Too much time is spent debating which agenda for change is best, instead of finding ways to facilitate better interactions among different interests
Research news | 2021-12-14
Global Resilience Partnership releases report on their work at COP26
The report synthesises the key overarching messages from their activities at the conference and offers guidance for future actions towards COP27
Research news | 2021-12-13
In a warming world the ocean will struggle as a carbon sink
Biological feedbacks means the ocean will struggle to remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as expected
Research news | 2021-12-08
Getting a more complete picture of our impact on nature
New metric can help investors, companies, cities, and governments track their environmental impacts beyond greenhouse gas emissions
Research news | 2021-12-02
Pushing the frontiers of social-ecological resilience
A new paper shows how resilience thinking has evolved further over the past 15 years, and gives three examples of this