Materialising energy and water resources in everyday practices: insights for securing supply systems

Yolande Strengers, Cecily Maller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Policies to secure energy and water supplies from the impacts of climate change are currently being developed or are in place in many developed nations. Little is known about how these policies of security, and the systems of resource provision they prioritise, affect householders' capacity to adapt to climate change. To better understand the connections between resource provision and consumption, this paper explores the notion that different 'energies' and 'waters' can be conceptualised as material elements of social practices, which shape the way practices are performed. We draw on a study of Australian migrants and their experiences with different resource provision systems in multiple countries, time periods and contexts across three generations. We discuss the differing characteristics of energy and water provision across three broad resource 'eras', and the way resources enable or reduce resourcefulness, adaptive capacity and resilience. We find that policy makers may inadvertently reduce householders' capacity to respond and adapt to climate change impacts by prioritising the resource characteristics of immateriality, abundance and homogeneity. We conclude that policy which prioritises the resource characteristics of materiality, diversity and scarcity is an important, underutilised and currently unacknowledged source of adaptive capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Consumption
  • Materiality
  • Migration
  • Security
  • Social practices

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