The scarcity and poor availability of water in many Spanish regions are, at first glance, the factors likely to drive forward water transfer policies.
However, a study recently published in Regional Environmental Change claims that: “It is neither the limitations of the water system nor ecological issues that are the catalyst in changing water policies, but rather cultural changes that will lead to sustainability.”
“The article applies and examines in depth the conceptual context of the theory of change, in order to look at the role of culture as a trigger for possible change in water management and planning towards a pattern of greater sustainability,” Joan David Tàbara, lead author of the study and coordinator of the European MATISSE project, which includes this research work, told SINC.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers focused on the case of the Ebro river. They underline the role that culture has played in the changes and use of its water resources. “As we move towards a more integrated management of the river basin, it becomes more relevant to have a better understanding and communication of the influence of cultural perceptions, values and beliefs,” the researchers told SINC:
The new water culture movement was created by social agents such as collectives, associations, intellectuals, NGOs and local governments, which have developed new identities, integrated policies and developed new ecological values.
The researchers see culture as “a sensitive, significant and active linking together of the knowledge and awareness of the world around us, which in some agents leads to the confidence and drive for change and group cooperation”. Experts and environmental activists in Spain have been brought together by this linking of new cultural strategies and identities, united within the movement of the new water culture.
The researchers point out that “this movement has helped to halt some of the previous government’s proposals, which were considered unsustainable, such as the transfer of water from the Ebro to the south of Spain for intensive agriculture and large-scale beach tourism developments.”
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