Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-n4bck Total loading time: 0.613 Render date: 2022-08-16T03:51:00.732Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

1 - The role played by water in the biosphere

from Part I - A new perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2014

Johan Rockström
Affiliation:
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Malin Falkenmark
Affiliation:
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Carl Folke
Affiliation:
Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm
Mats Lannerstad
Affiliation:
Stockholm Environment Institute
Jennie Barron
Affiliation:
Stockholm Environment Institute
Elin Enfors
Affiliation:
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Line Gordon
Affiliation:
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Jens Heinke
Affiliation:
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and International Livestock Research Institute
Holger Hoff
Affiliation:
Stockholm Environment Institute
Claudia Pahl-Wostl
Affiliation:
Universität Osnabrück
Get access

Summary

The future of humanity will depend on our capacity to govern and manage water in ways that build resilience in an era of rapid global change and growing indications of large-scale, undesirable risks caused by the unsustainable exploitation of ecosystems. We define this strategic domain of global sustainability as ‘water resilience’, i.e. the role of water in achieving social–ecological resilience in support of sustainable development in the world. The chapter presents the new conceptual framework for reconnecting our societies to the biosphere and introduces the focus of the book: freshwater and the living systems of the biosphere.

The fundamental role of water in sustaining life on Earth

Water is understood, and has been for centuries, as a fundamental component of human well-being and socio-economic development. This insight dates back to the ancient water civilisations in human history, ranging from the Mesopotamian irrigation societies of the early years of the Holocene geological era, some 8000 years ago, to the great water-engineering feats of the Egyptian, Maya, Chinese and Roman empires, all the way through to sophisticated local contemporary water societies such as the Bali water temples and the intricate Dutch water-control boards. Nonetheless, there is ample evidence to suggest that we have reached a new situation in which our current way of governing and managing freshwater is becoming obsolete in relation to the social and environmental challenges facing humanity in the coming 50 years.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Alcamo, J. and Henrichs, T. (2002). Critical regions: a model-based estimation of world water resources sensitive to global changes. Aquatic Sciences, 64, 352–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Berndes, G. (2002). Bioenergy and water: the implications of large-scale bioenergy production for water use and supply. Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions, 12, 253–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Biggs, H. C., Rogers, K. H., Du Toit, J., Rogers, K. and Biggs, H. (2003). An adaptive system to link science, monitoring and management in practice. In The Kruger Experience: Ecology and Management of Savanna Heterogeneity, ed. Du Toit, J. T., Biggs, H. C. and Rogers, K. H.Washington, DC: Island Press, pp. 59–80.Google Scholar
Bogardi, J. J., Dudgeon, D., Lawford, R. et al. (2012). Water security for a planet under pressure: interconnected challenges of a changing world call for sustainable solutions. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 4, 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brundtland, G. H. (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Canadell, J. G., Le Quere, C., Raupach, M. R. et al. (2007). Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 18866–18870.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carpenter, S. R. (2003). Regime Shifts in Lake Ecosystems: Pattern and Variation. Excellence in Ecology. Oldendorf/Luhe, Germany: Ecology Institute.Google Scholar
Carpenter, S. R. (2005). Eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems: bistability and soil phosphorus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102, 10002–10005.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carpenter, S. R. and Bennett, E. M. (2011). Reconsideration of the planetary boundary for phosphorus. Environmental Research Letters, 6, 014009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carpenter, S., Walker, B., Anderies, J. M. and Abel, N. (2001). From metaphor to measurement: resilience of what to what?Ecosystems, 4, 765–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster. (2012). EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database Version 12.07. Brussels: Université Catholique De Louvain. Available at: (accessed 6 June 2012).Google Scholar
Chao, B. F., Wu, Y. H. and Li, Y. S. (2008). Impact of artificial reservoir water impoundment on global sea level. Science, 320, 212–214.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cole, D. H. and Ostrom, E. (eds) (2011). Property in Land and Other Resources. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.Google Scholar
Crutzen, P. J. (2002a). The ‘Anthropocene’. Journal De Physique Iv, 12, 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crutzen, P. J. (2002b). Geology of mankind. Nature, 415, 23.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crutzen, P. J. and Steffen, W. (2003). How long have we been in the Anthropocene era? Comment. Climatic Change, 61, 251–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crutzen, P. J. and Stoermer, E. F. (2000). The ‘Anthropocene’. IGBP Newsletter, 41, 17–18.Google Scholar
Dai, A. (2011). Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index during 1900–2008. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 116, D12115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Fraiture, C. and Wichelns, D. (2010). Satisfying future water demands for agriculture. Agricultural Water Management, 97, 502–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Vries, M. and de Boer, I. J. M. (2010). Comparing environmental impacts for livestock products: a review of life cycle assessments. Livestock Science, 128, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Duda, A. M. (2003). Integrated management of land and water resources based on a collective approach to fragmented international conventions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 358, 2051–2062.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Enfors, E. (2013). Social-ecological traps and transformations in dryland agro-ecosystems: using water system innovations to change the trajectory of development. Global Environmental Change, 23, 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ericson, J. P., Vörösmarty, C. J., Dingman, S. L., Ward, L. G. and Meybeck, M. (2006). Effective sea level rise and deltas: causes of change and human dimension implications. Global and Planetary Change, 50, 63–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
European Space Agency (2010). GlobCover 2009. Paris: Globcover Consortium. Available at: (accessed 26 February 2013).Google Scholar
Ewing, B., Moore, D., Goldfinger, S. et al. (2010). Ecological Footprint Atlas 2010. Oakland, CA: Global Footprint Network. Available at: .Google Scholar
Falkenmark, M. (1986). Fresh water: time for a modified approach. Ambio, 15, 192–200.Google Scholar
Falkenmark, M. and Chapman, T. (eds) (1989). Comparative Hydrology: An Ecological Approach to Land and Water Resources. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
Falkenmark, M. and Folke, C. (2003). Freshwater and welfare fragility: syndromes, vulnerabilities and challenges. Introduction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 358, 1917–1920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Falkenmark, M. and Rockström, J. (2004). Balancing Water for Humans and Nature: The New Approach in Ecohydrology. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., Walker, B. et al. (2010). Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecology and Society, 15, 20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Food and Agriculture Organization (2012a). The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization. Available at: .Google Scholar
Food and Agriculture Organization (2012b). State of the World’s Forests 2012. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
Food and Agriculture Organization (2013). FAOSTAT Online Database. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization. Available at: .Google Scholar
Freydank, K. and Siebert, S. (2008). Towards mapping the extent of irrigation in the last century: time series of irrigated area per country. Frankfurt Hydrology Paper 08. Institute of Physical Geography, University of Frankfurt, Germany.
Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R. et al. (2010). Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science, 327, 812–818.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gordon, L. J., Peterson, G. D. and Bennett, E. M. (2008). Agricultural modifications of hydrological flows create ecological surprises. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23, 211–219.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hansen, J., Satol, M., Kharechal, P. et al. (2008). Target atmospheric CO2: where should humanity aim?The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2, 217–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoekstra, A. Y. (2010). The water footprint of animal products. In The Meat Crisis: Developing More Sustainable Production and Consumption., ed. D’Silva, J. and Webster, J.London: Earthscan, pp. 22–33.Google Scholar
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007). Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Google Scholar
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Google Scholar
International Conference on Water and the Environment (1992). The Dublin statement on water and sustainable development. International Conference on Water and the Environment, Dublin.
Jansson, Å., Folke, C., Rockström, J., Gordon, L. and Falkenmark, M. (1999). Linking freshwater flows and ecosystem services appropriated by people: the case of the Baltic Sea drainage basin. Ecosystems, 2, 351–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jouzel, J., Masson-Delmotte, V., Cattani, O. et al. (2007). Orbital and millennial Antarctic climate variability over the past 800,000 years. Science, 317, 793–796.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kharas, H. (2010). The emerging middle class in developing countries. OECD Working papers: 285. OECD. Available at: .CrossRef
Klein Goldewijk, K., Beusen, A., Van Drecht, G. and De Vos, M. (2011). The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human-induced global land-use change over the past 12,000 years. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20, 73–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kummu, M., Ward, P. J., de Moel, H. and Varis, O. (2010). Is physical water scarcity a new phenomenon? Global assessment of water shortage over the last two millennia. Environmental Research Letters, 5, 034006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lagi, M., Bar-Yam, Y., Bertrand, K. Z. and Bar-Yam, Y. (2012). Economics of Food Prices and Crises. Cambridge, MA: New England Complex Systems Institute. Available at: .Google Scholar
Lambin, E. F. and Geist, H. J. (eds) (2006). Land-use and Land-cover Change. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lenton, T. M., Held, H., Kriegler, E. et al. (2008). Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 1786–1793.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Liquete, C., Maes, J., La Notte, A. and Bidoglio, G. (2011). Securing water as a resource for society: an ecosystem services perspective. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology, 11, 247–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loh, J., Green, R. E., Ricketts, T. et al. (2005). The Living Planet Index: using species population time series to track trends in biodiversity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 360, 289–295.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lundqvist, J. (ed.) (2000). New Dimensions in Water Security: Water, Society and Ecosystem Services in the 21st Century. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
McIntyre, B., Herren, H., Wakhungu, J. and Watson, R. T. (eds) (2009). Agriculture at the Crossroads: International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
Meybeck, M. (2003). Global analysis of river systems: from Earth System controls to Anthropocene syndromes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 358, 1935–1955.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
Molden, D., Oweis, T. Y., Steduto, P. et al. (2007). Pathways for increasing agricultural water productivity. In Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, ed. Molden, D.London: Earthscan, pp. 219–310.Google Scholar
Molle, F. and Wester, P. (eds) (2009). River Basin Trajectories: Societies, Environments and Development. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
National Academy of Sciences of United States of America (2009). PNAS tipping elements in Earth systems special feature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 1068–1072.Google Scholar
Odum, E. (1969). The strategy of ecosystem development. Science, 164, 262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Oki, T. and Kanae, S. (2006). Global hydrological cycles and world water resources. Science, 313, 20561–20563.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Oppenheimer, S. (2004). Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World. London: Constable & Robinson.Google Scholar
Oyama, M. D. and Nobre, C. A. (2003). A new climate-vegetation equilibrium state for tropical South America. Geophysical Research Letters, 30, 2199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pahl-Wostl, C., Lebel, L., Knieper, C. and Nikitina, E. (2012). From applying panaceas to mastering complexity: toward adaptive water governance in river basins. Environmental Science & Policy, 23, 24–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Poff, N. L., Allan, J. D., Bain, M. B. et al. (1997). The natural flow regime. BioScience, 47, 769–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Poff, N. L. and Zimmerman, J. K. H. (2009). Ecological responses to altered flow regimes: a literature review to inform the science and management of environmental flows. Freshwater Biology, 55, 194–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Postel, S. L. (1998). Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?Bioscience, 48, 629–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ramanathan, V. and Feng, Y. (2008). On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: formidable challenges ahead. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 14245–14250.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Richter, B., Baumgartner, J., Wigington, R. and Braun, D. (1997). How much water does a river need?Freshwater Biology, 37, 231–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rimas, A. and Fraser, E. D. (2010). Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Ripl, W. and Hildmann, C. (2000). Dissolved load transported by rivers as an indicator of landscape sustainability. Ecological Engineering, 14, 373–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rockström, J., Gordon, L., Folke, C., Falkenmark, M. and Engwall, M. (1999). Linkages among water vapor flows, food production, and terrestrial ecosystem services. Conservation Ecology, 3, 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K. et al. (2009a). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature, 461, 472–475.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K. et al. (2009b). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society, 14, 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S., Foley, J. A., Folke, C. and Walker, B. (2001). Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature, 413, 591–596.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Scheffer, M. and Carpenter, S. R. (2003). Catastrophic regime shifts in ecosystems: linking theory to observation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18, 648–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shiklomanov, I. A. (1998). World Water Resources: A New Appraisal and Assessment for the 21st Century. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, pp. 369–384.Google Scholar
Shiklomanov, I. A. (2000). Appraisal and assessment of world water resources. Water International, 25, 11–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shiklomanov, I. A. (2003). World water use and water availability. In World Water Resources in the Beginning of the 21st Century, ed. Shiklomanov, I. A. & Rodda, J. C.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Shiklomanov, I. A. and Rodda, J. C. (2004). World Water Resources at the Beginning of the 21st Century. International Hydrology Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Smakhtin, V., Revenga, C. and Döll, P. (2004). A pilot global assessment of environmental water requirements and scarcity. Water International, 29, 307–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Solomon, S., Rosenlof, K. H., Portmann, R. W. et al. (2010). Contributions of stratospheric water vapor to decadal changes in the rate of global warming. Science, 327, 1219–1223.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Steffen, W., Crutzen, P. J. and McNeill, J. R. (2007). The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature. Ambio, 36, 614–621.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Steffen, W. L., Sanderson, A., Tyson, P. D. et al. (2004). Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure. Global Change: The IGBP series, 1619–2435. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
Tilman, D., Balzer, C., Hill, J. and Befort, B. L. (2011). Global food demand and the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 20260–20264.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. Rome: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Available at: (accessed 21 November 2012).Google Scholar
United Nations Environment Programme (2012). Global Environment Outlook GEO 5. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme.Google Scholar
United Nations Population Division (1999). The World at Six Billion ESA/P/WP.154. Rome: United Nations Population Division. Available at: .Google Scholar
Van der Ent, R. and Savenije, H. (2011). Length and time scales of atmospheric moisture recycling. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11, 1853–1863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wada, Y., van Beek, L. P. H., van Kempen, C. M. et al. (2010). Global depletion of groundwater resources. Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L20402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walker, B., Holling, C. S., Carpenter, S. R. and Kinzig, A. (2004). Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 9, 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walker, B. and Salt, D. (2006). Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
Wolf, A. (2003). ‘Water Wars’ and other tales of hydromythology. In Whose Water is it? The Unquenchable Thirst of a Water-hungry World, ed. Jehl, D. & Mcdonald, B.Washington, DC: National Geographic, pp. 109–124.Google Scholar
World Trade Organization. (2012). International Trade Statistics 2012. Geneva: WTO Available at: .Google Scholar
World Water Assessment Programme. (2009). World Water Development Report 3: Water in a changing world. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.Google Scholar
World Wildlife Fund for Nature. (2012). Living Planet Report 2012: Biodiversity, Biocapacity and Better Choices. Gland, Switzerland: World Wildlife Fund for Nature.Google Scholar
Young, O. R. and Steffen, W. (2009). The Earth System: sustaining planetary life-support systems. In Principles of Ecosystem Stewardship, ed. Chapin, F. S., Kofinas, G. P. & Folke, C.Heidelberg, Germany: Springer, pp. 295–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×