Foresight of the Water Issue in Isfahan

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Industrial Engineering and Future Studies, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Isfahan University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Future Studies, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran,

3 Department of Executive Management, Dolatabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran


The purpose of this research is to identify the key variables and driving forces affecting the future of the water issue in the city of Isfahan and to compile the scenarios facing the city of Isfahan in the water issue. The current research method as an applied research and using the critical uncertainties approach has presented the future scenarios of water in Isfahan. To collect data, the method of library studies and expert panels has been used. Using the opinion of experts, 20 key factors in the form of five drivers, i.e. 1. The price of water, 2. Investing in new technologies, 3. Water policies, 4. urban population and 5. Water infrastructures were categorized. In the next stage, the two drivers of water policies and investment in new technologies as critical uncertainties were the basis for compiling the scenarios of Isfahan City in the field of water, and finally, four scenarios were compiled. The first scenario of the battle for the last sip narrates the situation in which Isfahan will face a severe drought; The second scenario, there is water but little, shows a situation where water policies are forward-looking and do not ignore long-term challenges, but technology is left out as a solution to solve problems in this area; The third scenario is water, but for the rich, it is a bipolar story about access to water; And the fourth scenario of green Isfahan describes a situation that city managers and officials, taking into account the potential of new technologies in the optimal management of water consumption and by adopting forward-looking policies, realize a green city that is favourable to different sections of the society. The results show that drivers and scenarios show that the most important factors determining the future water situation in Isfahan City are not environmental factors, but factors related to human decisions
Extended Abstract
Water is one of the most critical natural resources, and its preservation is essential for the survival and sustainable development of future generations on earth. Iran is one of the driest and semi-arid countries in the world due to low rainfall and inappropriate temporal and spatial distribution of rainfall and is one of the driest countries. And its large cities, as the most densely populated settlements, face more significant challenges to the sustainable water supply. Meanwhile, the city of Isfahan is facing dehydration due to being in a dry climate, reduced rainfall, increasing population and thus increasing water demand, development of high-consumption water industries around it, low efficiency of water consumption in agriculture, and problems in water management. Sustainable development of Isfahan requires management of these conditions and water resources because environmental sustainability, which includes water resources management, along with the five issues of livelihood, spatial form and infrastructure, financial resources, and governance, constitute the components of sustainable urban life development. On the other hand, the city's sustainable development ensures the sustainability of ecosystems and water resources for future generations. Therefore, facing these conditions has become the primary concern of water supply officials to develop and implement a wide range of strategies and integrated water management to ensure the sustainable development of Isfahan. In this context, foresight and managing uncertainties using scenarios will be of considerable help to urban planners. In this regard, the present study seeks to formulate scenarios for Isfahan in terms of water to obtain a piece of the puzzle of urban planning and foresight.
The present study is part of applied and qualitative researches in terms of purpose and data collection method, respectively. Future workshop methods, a panel of experts, and scenario planning with a critical uncertainty approach or Global Business Network (GBN) were used as foresight methods and in combined in this research. The panel of experts included 17 senior experts and city managers who were familiar with climate change and water issues.
Results and discussion
Based on library studies and expert opinion, 20 critical factors were identified in the form of five drivers, including 1. water prices, 2. investment in new technologies, 3. water policies, 4. population, and 5. water infrastructure. And in the next step, the two drivers of water policies and investment in new technologies, as drivers of key uncertainties, became the basis for scenario development. In this research, four scenarios for the future of Isfahan were developed. The first scenario of "Battle for the Last Drink" narrates how Isfahan will face severe drought. Suppose the managers and officials of Isfahan are only thinking about solving the water crisis for today's citizens and do not use new technologies for optimal water management. In that case, groundwater resources will be depleted quickly, and the city will be affected by the drought such that the city will no longer be habitable. This scenario is the scariest and most believable image in front of the city of Isfahan. Climate migration and fear of drought will force thousands of Isfahan citizens to emigrate from Isfahan. The second scenario, "there is water but little," shows that water policies are forward-looking and do not ignore long-term challenges, but technology has been abandoned as a way to solve problems in this area. We need optimal water control and survival because groundwater aquifers have been reduced to a minimum, and annual rainfall is still declining. Therefore, according to foresight policies, steps should be taken towards optimal consumption, but in this scenario, the traditional solutions adopted still lack understanding of the potential of new technologies in the field of water. In the third scenario, "there is water, but for the rich," we see a dipole in access to water. The city's wealthy people, who can buy technology, have water, and the less affluent, are deprived of water. Engineers usually take steps to address existing crises in communities by identifying them, but the managers must provide the conditions for the equitable use of technologies and their indigenous growth. Solving the water crisis in this scenario is more of a management issue in the social sciences than a technical one. In the fourth scenario of "Green Isfahan," city managers and officials, considering the potential of new technologies in the optimal management of water consumption and adopting foresight policies, will reach a desirable green city for different segments of society. Green Isfahan will be a living city with an identity that results from the future wisdom and intelligence of managers and the innovation of engineers.
Future studies seek to keep the future open to all alternatives and propositions, and scenarios, as the most widely used method of future studies, are alternative and believable stories of the future that each of them has the potential to occur. The achievement of scenario planning is a kind of intelligence about the "what ifs" that each scenario presents to managers. The scenario planning results in Isfahan's water basin showed that the essential future drivers in the water basin are all cases that are somehow manageable by human factors. Water price drives, investment in new technologies, water policies, population, and water infrastructure are all things that can be changed by the decisions of human factors (managers and urban decision-makers).
There is no funding support.
Authors’ Contribution
All of the authors approved thecontent of the manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work.
Conflict of Interest
Authors declared no conflict of interest.
We are grateful to all the scientific consultants of this paper.


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