We have purposefully chosen epilogue rather than the more commonly used conclusion as a final chapter as our purpose in writing this book is to open a new way of understanding, explaining and addressing complex transboundary water management (TWM) problems—one that draws upon the notion of emergent patterns and contingent nature of interventions. Our premise is to address TWM issues using complexity thinking and by reframing the conventional notion of causality. The purpose of this epilogue—upholding the complexity thinking and contingent nature of interventions—is not to provide a definitive prescription but to distill few insights gained from this effort. The intent is to invite the reader to join the conversation through seeking out elaboration, providing critique and applying it in different contexts.
If you have arrived at this point in your reading either by going through each chapter or only a selective few or reading the prologue and now the epilogue in order to get a sense of what the book is about, then your strategy reflects the central theme of the book—appreciating the nonlinearity of a complex phenomenon (reading this long book) and taking contingent action (given your time constraints and competing demands on your time). The first three opening chapters attempt to understand (Chapter 1), explain (Chapter 2) and show (Chapter 3) how the notion of complexity and contingency can resolve coupled natural and human (CNH) system problems in general and TWM issues in particular.
Understanding, explaining and addressing the dynamic interactions inherent in TWM problems—involving variables, processes, actors and institutions—constituted the underlying premise of all chapters, even when not explicitly mentioned. There is a general recognition that many of the TWM challenges are complex; what is not clear is how to diagnose the source and nature of TWM complexity and what to do in resolving those complex TWM problems. TWM faces growing challenges at the intersections of natural and human systems, which are amplified by uncertainties in population growth, climate change and technological advancements. These challenges lead to competing and often conflicting demands for water. Traditional problem- solving frames are adequate to address simple problems where reasonable scientific certainty and consensus about intervention exist.