chapter  3
14 Pages

Water, conflict and social sustainability

Bringing power into the water security discourse
WithSofie Hellberg

This chapter provides an overview of the debate on the relationship between (water) scarcity and conflict and offers a critical perspective on how we can approach water conflicts within a sustainable development framework. The chapter argues that in order to understand conflict dynamics in relation to water it is central to place focus on power relationships regarding resource distribution. The chapter also argues that the concept of social sustainability can aid the process of analysing and addressing water conflicts. An application of the concept of social sustainability, as it is done in this chapter, highlights how different populations are viewed and governed differently in relation to their resource use. Such different ways of viewing different communities, in turn, has the effect of neutralising and masking conflicts that are created by various economic interests and inequalities in water access. Ultimately the chapter argues that there is a need to broaden the view of the water disputes that is recognised in global water policy and that we need to address the relationships between different actors and users in terms of water use and access as well as the political economy of water scarcities in order to create preconditions for water security.