Special Issue "Urban Planning and Water Insecurity in the 21st Century"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Priyam Das
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Interests: water governance; social and environmental justice; urban poverty; climate adaptation; urban form; resilient design; planning pedagogy
Dr. Charisma Acey
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
City and Regional Planning, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-5800, USA
Interests: water and sanitation infrastructure; poverty alleviation; environmental justice; climate justice; food security; social equity; public participation; community-based participatory research
Dr. David Fuente
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
Interests: water; sanitation; applied environmental economics; infrastructure planning; sustainability science; environmental policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Inequality threatens to widen the gap between those with and without water, even as extreme weather tests the sustainability and resilience of water systems. Aging, absent, inadequate, and inequitable water, sanitation, and wastewater infrastructure and services for a growing global population in the face of climate change and other impacts of human activity are among the myriad water-related threats facing communities in urban and rural areas around the world. Innovative approaches to planning and policy for the use and management of water and wastewater systems require interdisciplinary solutions, engagement from civil society, government, and the private sector, and deeper consideration of natural resources and ecosystems. Decisions about land use and the built environment shape the growth and development of regions in ways that profoundly impact the quality and quantity of water resources and water supply. Moreover, the legacy of planning has had a direct impact on social equity and environmental justice. However, urban planning scholarship and practice have played a surprisingly peripheral role in shaping the conversation around water and sanitation service delivery. In the U.S., the relatively recent impetus to align the planning profession with water supply and management has moved the needle towards frameworks such as One Water to encourage an integrated approach that views water supply, wastewater, and stormwater as one resource for planning purposes (https://www.planning.org/divisions/groups/water/). Future research on healthy, inclusive, equitable, and resilient cities warrants a closer look at how theories and practices of urban planning can extend and enhance the engineering, public health, and economic perspectives that dominate the discourse on water and sanitation service delivery today.

The Special Issue seeks to explore the relationship between urban planning and household water insecurity. This is particularly salient as cities adapt to a changing financial landscape, growing inequality, and climate change. Household water insecurity is broadly defined as a lack of safe, reliable, sufficient, and affordable water for a thriving life (Jepson et al., 2017). As conventional approaches fail to sufficiently improve access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation, and wastewater management for all, scholarly inquiry into alternatives underscoring the need to creatively integrate the natural and social dimensions of water sustainability is growing. While there is a well-established body of research on household water insecurity in the global South (Mitlin et al., 2019) and scholars have begun to scrutinize systemic disparities and drivers of water insecurity in high-income countries (Meehan et al., 2020), examining how household water insecurity intersects urban planning can provide an incisive look at water and wastewater infrastructure as socio-technical systems mediated by contextual particularities. How are varied conditions and forms of household water insecurity produced? How can a focus on the land-water nexus help shape a new water ethic in the context of climate extremes? How might various planning approaches (collaborative, participatory, advocacy, equity, etc.) influence efforts to ensure equitable access to water and wastewater infrastructure and services? How can a shared vocabulary between planners and water professionals be developed to facilitate collaboration that transcends sectors and scales to address the challenge of household water insecurity?


Jepson, W.; Wutich, A.; Collins, S. M.; Boateng, G. O. and Young, S. L. Progress in household water insecurity metrics: A crossdisciplinary approach. WIREs Water, 2017, 4, e1214.

Meehan K.; Jepson W.; Harris L.M.; Wutich, A.; Beresford, M.; Fencl, A.; London, J.; Pierce, G.; Radonic, L.; Wells, C.; et al. Exposing the myths of household water insecurity in the global north: A critical review. WIREs Water. 2020; e1486. Available online: https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.1002/wat2.1486 (accessed on 1 March 2021).

Mitlin, D.; Beard, V.A.; Satterthwaite, D.; and Du J. Unaffordable and undrinkable: Rethinking urban water access in the Global South. Working Paper. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC, USA, 2019.

Dr. Priyam Das
Dr. Charisma Acey
Dr. David Fuente
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • household
  • water insecurity
  • urban planning
  • climate change
  • infrastructure
  • service delivery
  • inequality
  • land–water nexus

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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