A systems thinking approach to water trade: finding leverage for sustainable development

Mai, Thanh and Mushtaq, Shahbaz and Loch, Adam and Reardon-Smith, K. and An-Vo, Duc-Anh (2019) A systems thinking approach to water trade: finding leverage for sustainable development. Land Use Policy, 82. pp. 595-608. ISSN 0264-8377


Water trading has become a key water scarcity risk-management tool for irrigators. Effective and enduring water trade systems require approaches that can cope with dynamic complexity and enable the inclusion of multiple stakeholders. Previous efforts to improve water trade systems have largely focused on reductionist approaches, which examine system components in isolation neglecting their interconnected nature. Such approaches to water trade system assessment are at risk of maladaptation resulting in increased market inefficiencies, transaction costs and market failure through barriers to participation. Using a systems thinking approach, we develop a conceptual model of a generalised water trade system in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin (MDB or the Basin). The model visualises the Basin's water trade systems as a whole and identifies feedback mechanisms likely to influence trade development and endurance. We argue that such a conceptual model provides an effective communication tool for achieving a better understanding of market dynamics and alignment of stakeholder priorities to improve enduring market use. It can also serve as an assessment/evaluation tool for water trade policy and identify key leverage points for systemic interventions.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - No Department
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2019 00:17
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2019 22:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: dynamic complexity; feedback loops; Murray-Darling Basin; water markets
Fields of Research : 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140201 Agricultural Economics
14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140205 Environment and Resource Economics
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
B Economic Development > 91 Economic Framework > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910499 Management and Productivity not elsewhere classified
Funding Details:
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.01.004
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/35376

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