International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Underlying causes

Underlying causes are those that contribute to the immediate causes. They can broadly be defined as underlying resource uses and practices, and their related social and economic causes. Governance related causes are often identified here.

Resource uses and practices will tend to fall into areas such as:

  • Land uses (reclamation/drainage operations, deforestation, agriculture).
  • Damaging or unsustainable practices (Intensive livestock production, absence of/or outdated water treatment technology, destructive fisheries practices)
  • Uses of water (diversion, storage etc)

The social and economic causes tend to fall into areas such as:

  • Increased sectoral development
  • Lack of investment, operation and maintenance
  • Poor awareness or education
  • Governance failures  - legislation, regulation, enforcement

To identify these underlying causes it is necessary to understand which sector they fall in (e.g. within agriculture or industry), and the governance framework within which they operate. Unfortunately, different sectors often act independently. This makes it very difficult to achieve a coordinated inter-sectoral response. Although both policymaking and information are generally sharply divided between sectors, their environmental impacts are not.

Examples of underlying causes in recent TDA's can be found here.