Questions of justice in hydrological extremes: advanced review

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Current geographies of hydrological risk are rooted in deep inequalities. Every year more than 100 million people are stricken by hydrological extremes, which disproportionally affect low income and marginalized groups. The severity and the frequency of floods and droughts have often increased as a result of climate and socio-economic changes. In addition to the impacts produced by the event, hydrological extremes also compromise the future of affected communities. The production and distribution of hydrological risk thus raises important questions of justice. Although critical studies have developed different conceptual tools to define and capture how power manifest through unjust water flows, there remains a gap in understanding how this power intersects with hydrosocial extremes and results in disproportionate experiences of drought and flood events. Drawing on different perspectives of justice, this paper reflects on what justice entails in the context of hydrological risk. It argues that understanding injustices in hydrological extremes requires unravelling the dynamics of risk emerging from the mutual shaping of hydrological extremes and society. Finally, the review stresses the need for an inter-disciplinary approach to holistically address the uneven production and distribution of hydrological risks.
hydrological extremes, justice, water, vulnerabilities