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Analyzing Evidence of Sustainable Urban Water Management Systems: A Review through the Lenses of Sociotechnical Transitions

Blal Adem Esmail () and Lina Suleiman ()
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Blal Adem Esmail: Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, 38123 Trento, Italy
Lina Suleiman: Division of Urban and Regional Studies, Department of Urban Planning & Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, 114 28 Stockholm, Sweden

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 11, 1-1

Abstract: Sustainability concerns and multiple socio-environmental pressures have necessitated a shift towards Sustainable Urban Water Management (SUWM) systems. Viewing SUWM systems as sociotechnical, this paper departs from eight factors previously identified by transition research: Pressures , Context , Purposes , Actors , Instruments , Processes , Outputs , and Outcomes as a methodological framework for a structured review of 100 articles. The study seeks to analyze empirical cases of planning and implementing SUWM systems worldwide. A wide range of public actors—driven by social and environmental factors rather than by economic pressures—have initiated SUWM projects so as to locally fulfill defined social and environmental purposes. We provide evidence on the emergence of new actors, such as experts, users, and private developers, as well as on the diverse and innovative technical and societal instruments used to promote and implement SUWM systems. We also explore their contexts and institutional capacity to deal with pressures and to mobilize significant financial and human resources, which is in itself vital for the transition to SUWM. Planned or implemented SUWM outputs are divided into green (wet ponds, raingardens, and green roofs) and gray (rain barrels and porous pavements) measures. The outcomes of SUWM projects—in terms of societal and technical learning, and their institutional uptakes—are often implicit or lacking, which seemingly reduces the rate of desirable change.

Keywords: Blue–Green Infrastructure; low-impact development; sustainable urban drainage system; Water-Sensitive Urban Design; Water-Sensitive City; integrated urban water management; Sponge City; rainwater harvesting systems; planning; case study (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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