Climate change and water justice

M. Mills-Novoa, R. Boelens, J. Hoogesteger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is affecting the availability, distribution, and quality of water around the world. The impacts of climate change are not happening in a vacuum, but rather, are layered onto and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and injustices. In this chapter, we argue that water justice and climate change are intertwined in three critical ways. First, we argue that water injustice creates climate change vulnerability and climate change entrenches water injustices. Therefore addressing water injustices will also reduce climate change vulnerability. Second, we argue that the proposed solutions to climate change can and will have implications for water justice. In some cases, mitigation and adaptation solutions will create or deepen existing water injustices while other solutions may represent a space for positive action. We examine six examples of how responses to climate change are poised to affect water justice: lithium mining, REDD+/Payment of Ecosystem Services, hydropower dams, rural to urban water transfers, desalination, and adaptive management. Third, water justice and climate justice struggles can and should build greater unity. By building unity (not uniformity) between water justice and climate justice struggles, movements could gain better insight into the local-global connections that exist between water injustice and climate injustice. Importantly, we also caution scholars against viewing climate change as the driver of water injustice. Climate change, as a discourse, can naturalize water scarcity and obscure the power and politics that drive water injustice. By exploring these important intersections between climate change and water justice, we argue that water justice and climate justice struggles and scholarship would benefit considerably from one another.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater and Climate Change
Subtitle of host publicationSustainable Development, Environmental and Policy Issues
EditorsT.M. Letcher
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780323998758
ISBN (Print)9780323998765
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2022


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • climate change vulnerability
  • climate justice
  • mitigation
  • Water justice


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