Sound sustainability, or playing with fire? Battling future water scarcity in Quito, Ecuador
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This thesis presents an analysis of the Trends and Pressures Framework (TPF), City Blueprint Framework (CBF), and Governance Capacity Assessment Framework (GCAF) of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. The TPF analysis comprises 12 social, environmental and financial indicators (18 if all sub-indicators are counted). The CBF assessment measures the performance of IWRM based on 25 different indicators that are divided up into 7 different categories: water quality, solid waste treatment, basic water services, wastewater treatment, infrastructure, climate robustness and governance (Koop & Van Leeuwen, 2015c; 2016). As the OECD (2016) states that the global water crisis is predominantly a governance crisis, a GCAF analysis is added to explore the room for improvement of the current policies on the level of urban governance. In total 9 overarching governance capacities (conditions) were assessed, each consisting of 3 (sub-)characteristics, resulting in a total of 27 indicators for the GCAF. This was done on the basis of 26 qualitative semi-structured interviews, of which 14 were with experts on the area of IWRM in Quito, and 12 were done with citizens. The CBA revealed that Quito had a Blue City Index (BCI) of 2.0, can be classified as a wasteful city, and that wastewater treatment (WWT), which is absent, is its main IWRM-bottleneck. Financial means to solve the problems on this area however, are lacking. In the GCAF analysis, therefore, the focus in this study is placed on water scarcity. At this point, shortages of water are not a problem in the metropolitan district of the Ecuadorian capital, as the percentage of the people that has access to drinking water lies close to 100%. Nevertheless, Quito might face serious water issues in the future, in part due to the rapid population growth that is predicted for the upcoming years (INEC, 2013). Although there are solid long-term plans to obtain, operationalize and protect new sources for drinking water, part of the city’s drinking water at present is obtained from the area around the active Cotopaxi volcano, of which the last eruption took place in August 2015. Regardless of the promising long-term strategies, a sudden event like a volcanic eruption could be a major risk for the city as a whole. To deal with these risks in an adequate manner, completeness, availability and accessibility of information, as well as cooperative power between different stakeholders and participation of citizens need to be improved. Furthermore, the lack of incentives and clear policies to restrict the use of certain substances or certain quantities of water are other major obstacles Quito finds in its transition to becoming a climate adaptive city, while the strong leadership, strong organization and cooperations within the drinking water authority itself and the widespread awareness among experts about the issues at hand can be considered additional positive points. Finally, as the GCAF was never applied to an urban context like that of Quito before, it first had to be adjusted to make it fit the local context. It was established that the characteristics of protection of core values, progress and choice variety and (political) authority were a source for a critical discussion due to the centralist character of governance in Ecuador. In turn, it was proposed to add a tenth condition, integrity, to the GCAF, consisting of the characteristics transparency, accountability and participation/anti-corruption, a result which is possibly also relevant for local contexts other than that of Quito.