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Social Acceptance of a Multi-Purpose Reservoir in a Recently Deglaciated Landscape in the Swiss Alps

Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Institute of Geography, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3819; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143819
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 25 June 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 12 July 2019
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Abstract

Climate change impacts such as shrinking glaciers and decreasing snow cover are expected to cause changes in the water balance throughout the 21st century. New proglacial lakes in recently deglaciated areas could be used for mitigation measures such as hydropower production and adaptation measures to temporarily retain water and transfer it seasonally to compensate for seasonal water scarcity. Such multi-purpose reservoirs could counterbalance the water currently provided by glaciers and the seasonal snowpack. However, new dam projects often face various conflicts due to their impact on nature, biodiversity, and the landscape. This article presents the determinants for social acceptance of the first reservoir in a recently deglaciated landscape in the Swiss Alps. Three main determinants were identified: (1) the forthcoming popular vote on the national Swiss Energy Strategy 2050; (2) the participatory process, which contains a polycentric design; and (3) the project area, which does not yet have protected status. The three determinants facilitate social acceptance of the dam project, but lead to less attention on using the stored water for multiple services. These findings have implications on sustainable development, because dams in recently deglaciated areas support the transition to renewable energy sources, but transform a natural resource system into a hydroelectric landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: social acceptance; polycentric governance; multi-purpose reservoir; renewable energy; hydropower; deglaciated landscape; water; climate change; Trift; Switzerland social acceptance; polycentric governance; multi-purpose reservoir; renewable energy; hydropower; deglaciated landscape; water; climate change; Trift; Switzerland
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Kellner, E. Social Acceptance of a Multi-Purpose Reservoir in a Recently Deglaciated Landscape in the Swiss Alps. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3819.

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