Water Institute member Larry Swatuk’s latest book offers best practices for avoiding Day Zero

Thursday, August 11, 2022
Book cover

Water Institute member Larry Swatuk, professor, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, School of Planning and Department of Geography and Environmental Management, and School of Planning alumna Corrine Cash, assistant professor, Department of Geography and Environment, Mount Allison University, have a new book out offering best practices for avoiding Day Zero.

The Political Economy of Urban Water Security under Climate Change, published by Palgrave Macmillan, co-edited by professors Swatuk and Cash, is part of the International Political Economy Series, providing a comprehensive review of urban water security challenges and opportunities. The book includes in-depth discussions on best practices for urban sustainability and applies a common framework of analysis across cities of all world regions.

“Providing adequate water and sanitation for the world’s urban masses is perhaps the greatest challenge of the 21st century. Success will depend on our willingness to depart from long-standing practices and embrace new concepts and practices such as circular economies and sponge cities.” ― Larry Swatuk

About the book

In 2018, the city of Cape Town faced the prospect of reaching ‘day zero’, that is a combination of natural and human-made factors leading to the complete collapse of its municipal water supply. While the rains eventually fell and a major disaster was averted, the fear of running out of water looms large in the psyche of residents in many cities around the world.

Water is a non-substitutable, essential, finite and fugitive resource. It is the lifeblood of human endeavour.

Cities, through global processes such as Agenda 2030 and forums such as ICLEI exchange best practices for achieving water security. These forums also are collective social spaces occupied by civil society organizations who share strategies and tactics, and the private sector, who compete for markets and contracts, promoting patent-protected technologies. It is these groups – states, civil societies, private sectors – coming together who determine who gets what water, when, and where.

It is the job of academics to understand the how and why, and of (academic-)activists to fight for equity of access and sustainability of use.

Evidence drawn from around the world and over time consistently shows that water flows toward money and power. Outcomes are too-often socially inequitable, environmentally unsustainable and economically inefficient. How to shift existing processes toward improved practices is not clear, but positive outcomes do exist.

In this collection, the authors compare and contrast the challenges and opportunities for achieving urban water security with a focus on 11 major world cities: Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Chennai, Istanbul, Jakarta, London, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Tokyo.

Through the theoretical, conceptual and practical insights provided in these case studies, the collection constructively contributes to a global conversation regarding the ways and means of ‘avoiding day zero’.

Read more about the new book here.