Convenors: Giorgio Osti, University of Trieste, Italy, giorgio.osti@dispes.units.it and Fabio Carnelli, Independent consultant, Italy, fa.carnelli@gmail.com

Climate change and intense urbanisation call for a new balance between land and water, cities and countryside. The hydraulic systems thought for protecting towns from floods and ensuring water for farmers need for new configurations. A complex system of multifunctional ponds and multiscale ditches (water network) are necessary for facing the climate change. Rural areas are asked to increase their capacity to keep water for several purposes: irrigation, water security and safety, people enjoyment and wetland protection. Such a task has distributional effects (more land for water), requires new coordination among landowners, inter-sectorial actions of public administration, agreements with city-users.

The WG aims to collect papers and research focused on this complex task, summarised in the ‘multifunctional ponds’ catchphrase. The theoretical perspective is double: spatial scale analysis and social relations. Two research traditions appear pertinent: on one side, the geographical approach aiming at showing the conflicts and injustices caused by water privatisation and, on the other, the network approach showing how public agencies and third sector organisations are creating new political arrangements. Thus, new politics of water in the wider context of climate change are emerging.

The objects of research to be presented in WG are several:

  • construction of big detention basins
  • small scale ditches systems both for irrigation and water security
  • plants purification tanks for sewage treatment
  • creation or re-creation of wetlands and nature-based solutions for water safety and security
  • farmers/citizens’ agreements for multifunctional uses of water
  • popular epidemiology and new water related diseases (e.g. legionella)
  • rural knowledge for mitigating urban flood risk
  • improvement of small scale irrigation systems in Ostrom’s style
  • integration of digital systems with direct observation-action of local people or farmers
  • farmers’ involvement and risk awareness in controlled flooding, preparedness, surveillance
  • interfaces between mini-hydropower plants and other ponds’ functions.

Format: Traditional workshop: 3-4 papers presented by authors in advance of opening to the floor for Q&As and wider discussion. With the collaboration of Angel Paniagua, CSIC, Spain and the ESRS Study Group ‘More Land for Water’, http://www.ruralsociology.eu/?p=600.