WaterPower - The collision of mega-trends in a West African coastal city

The majority of the world’s population lives since the turn of the millennium in cities, most of them in developing countries and many in the low elevation coastal zone. Furthermore urban expansion proceeds even faster than population growth. The rapidly increasing land, food, energy and freshwater demand drive regional land cover and land use change with global consequences. The risks that arise from these consequences are distributed unevenly across the planet. In Western Africa, urbanization occurs at rates that exceed administrative capacities, with detrimental impacts on human and ecosystem health. Resources are under multiple pressures from global market interests, a growing population, habitat degradation and conversion and a changing climate. Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource.

Given this context WaterPower aims at contributing to the fundamental question on how human well-being and development can be safeguarded and enhanced in growing coastal cities that are at risk from local environmental burdens and global environmental change. The main research questions addressed by the junior research group are: a) Will there be a collision of mega-trends in Accra? b) What are the governance related tipping-points that decide about collapse or sustainability?

Project Objectives
The objective is to explore the intersections and dynamics of urbanisation, the (mis-) allocation of resources and climate change drawing on the example of water scarcity. The project is aimed at creating integrated comprehensive knowledge on the urban water metabolism that goes beyond traditional framings, and that allows deriving transformative governance solutions. The theoretical and methodological aim is to advance integrated assessments by bridging dichotomies in research that currently hinder a comprehensive understanding of urban change and the relation to global environmental change and to trigger a new discourse on urban and global governance.
Stakeholder and action oriented goals are to create new visions of a desirable future development of the urban water metabolism in Accra, and to identify the room for manoeuvre for sustainable governance that paves the way towards such a desirable future. A key task is in-depth research on the multiple aspects of the research objective that leads to the publication of scientific papers. A similarly important task is capacity building for a next generation of scholars with a focus on training in interdisciplinary thinking. To meet stakeholder and actor oriented objectives, tasks further address communication and knowledge transfer.

Project Management
Prof. Dr. Antje Bruns
Trier University
Governance & Sustainability Lab
Faculty VI - Regional and Environmental Sciences
Tel. +49 651 201 4550
E-Mail: waterpower@uni-trier.de


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