“Water is money.” A social-ecological systems approach to power and value in water management: the case of Doñana and Spanish strawberries

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi; Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management

Abstract: This thesis examines a water management conflict resulting from land-use change and export-oriented agricultural intensification in a geography where water is the absolute lifeline to the sustainability of a social-ecological system: the Doñana in southwestern Andalusia, in Spain. Social-ecological systems (SES) approach is the theoretical base of this research, where the Doñana SES is scrutinized with the application of Elinor Ostrom’s SES framework to the very system, as well as the DPSIR (Drivers–Pressures–State–Impacts–Responses) framework for better communication of the conflict. Both frameworks are used for understanding the system in detail and in that sense, this is an inductive study, which provides a social science angle on power relations pertinent to the long-lasting local water management struggles. While the SES approach helps to depict the water conflict from a systematic, actor-based perspective, it exhibits the social, economic and environmental trade-offs between export-oriented water-intensive agriculture and environmental sustainability of the region. With a special focus on the local power relations and how they shape the regional development and natural resource management agenda, this study sheds light on the drivers of the water management conflict in the case of Spanish Doñana region famous for its berries, olives, oranges and wine.

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