Adapting hydrosocial framework to Mediterranean coastal tourism environments: How to achieve water governance from stakeholders’ perceptions and power relationships?

Authors: Rubén Villar-Navascués*, University of Alicante, Interuniversity Institute of Geography, Sandra Ricart, University of Alicante, Interuniversity Institute of Geography, Antonio Manuel Rico Amoros, University of Alicante, Interuniversity Institute of Geography, María Hernández Hernández, University of Alicante, Insteruniversity Institute of Geography
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Behavioral Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Water Governance, Stakeholder Theories, Water Resources Management, Hydrosocial Cycle, Spain
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

On the Mediterranean coast, urban-tourist growth has required the creation of sophisticated water supply systems to guarantee water demand, both in technical and in water governance terms. In some cases, the diversity of stakeholders and interests involved may affect the sustainability of the water system in addition to the challenges posed by climate change or future tourism development trends. In this study, we present a transdisciplinary approach, which includes hydrosocial cycle framework, stakeholder analysis, collaborative governance, and the use of triangulation to the case study of Benidorm and the Marina Baja region (southeast Spain). The case study is characterized by its specialization in coastal tourism and by the arrangements made by irrigators and urban users to exchange drinking water for reclaimed water. Through the development of semi-structured interviews of the 11 key stakeholders from public administration, the tourism and the water management sectors, and the irrigation communities we identify the main challenges and threats that the water system faces. Additionally, each stakeholder has completed a questionnaire in which value their representativeness, relevance, and collaborative capacity in the decision-making processes, both considering their actions, as well as their perception of those of the other stakeholders, for the proper functioning of the water system. The results allow for better identifying the required arrangements to achieve water governance and to revise unbalanced power relationships between stakeholders since these issues pose the main threat to the maintenance of the water system beyond the potential impacts of climate change or the increase in water demand.

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