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Determining Individual Endorsement Levels for Water Resilience Principles – A Case Study of the Town of Lincoln, Ontario.
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The integrity of freshwater ecosystems is being challenged, mainly due to the failures of the traditional command-and-control governance approach. A social ecological resilience approach to water resources management (water resilience) has been proposed to help mitigate these challenges. To effectively implement this approach, individual endorsement and attitudes to water resilience and its underlying principles must be better understood; however, very little research has examined individual attitudes towards this concept. This thesis studied the extent to which individuals endorse (support and agree with) managing and governing water resources using a social ecological resilience approach. To explore and determine endorsement of water resilience, a quantitative vignette questionnaire was utilized in a single exploratory case study in the Town of Lincoln, Ontario. The vignette questionnaire was developed based on the seven underlying principles of social ecological resilience and elicited responses for both local and non-local water contexts. Demographic data was also collected to examine how they relate to endorsement scores. Overall, respondents indicated a medium level of endorsement for the water resilience principles, with lower endorsement for the local than the non-local context. However, the extent of endorsement for the resilience principles differed as a function of location, the type of water challenge, individual experiences, and the conceptualization of the resilience principles. Those with higher overall endorsement scores tended to be female, older and attached more meaning to water bodies. Sex, political ideology and attaching meaning to local water bodies emerged as important predictors of water resilience endorsement. The vignette questionnaire proposes a suitable methodological framework for determining and measuring endorsement levels for the resilience principles. A factor analysis showed the seven resilience principles as consisting of two major components: principles related to ‘the system being governed’ and principles related to the ‘governance system’. The results of this thesis provide useful insights to policy makers/planners in developing more adaptive, integrative and resilient water governance approaches tailored to align with particular community perceptions and demographics. For future research, the nuances of endorsement, as well as additional factors like personality and psychological factors that may influence endorsement levels, should be considered.