International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Changing Water Cultures (CANALS)

»Changing Water Cultures« (CANALS) explores how a community adapts to global warming when there is an increase in extreme weather events (such as heavy rainfall) due to climate change. The project has two goals: first, to understand how water creates relationships between people in urban spaces and how these relationships are changing due to climate change; and second, to develop a process for stakeholders to acquire the knowledge they need to adapt, i.e., to create new relationships.

The project continues work started in 2021 in the Marie Curie project of the same name at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (University of Bergen, Norway) (EU Horizon 2020 framework programme – Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 895008).


CANALS has ended, but the work goes on...

Efforts are currently being made to implement the recommendations and to prepare for the project's results to be published.

Project team


March 2021 – April 2023

Project description

For some years now, the signs of global climate change have become increasingly visible in Germany. Thus, weather phenomena that were previously considered very rare are occurring more frequently and more intensively. This also holds true for the city of Reutlingen, which has experienced several extreme weather and flood events in recent years, such as the hailstorms of 2013 and 2021 or the floods of 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Many people perceive weather and climate phenomena as increasingly unpredictable and thus more worrying. The »Changing Water Cultures« (CANALS) project addresses this phenomenon through ›water glasses‹. In the future, climate change is likely to result in an increased amount of water in relatively short periods of time (heavy rainfall events) with the associated small-scale effect of too much water (flood events) or too little (droughts and dry spells) – all of which will have a considerable impact on public life in settlement areas of cities and municipalities.

The CANALS project is led by Dr. Simon Meisch in cooperation with the Universities of Tübingen and Bergen (Norway) and the City of Reutlingen. The contact person on the side of the city administration is the Environmental Protection Officer Reinhard Braxmaier of the Task-Force Climate and Environment. The project consists of two phases: Phase 1: ›Collection of experiences, expertise, and activities‹ (January-December 2022), and Phase 2: ›Creation of useful knowledge for action, especially also in and for civil society‹ (Spring 2023).

In the first phase, in addition to the technical expertise in the city administration and the specialised authorities of the state, CANALS seeks to talk to Reutlingen citizens about their own experiences with climate change, how they are already dealing with it, e.g., through their own approaches to action, and what they expect for their personal environment, the city of Reutlingen and beyond in the future. Most of them will probably have already dealt with the consequences of climate change in professional or voluntary, but probably in private contexts. The experiences, expertise and activities of Reutlingen residents will be made visible and collected in this first phase. This will be done mainly through interviews or walks, which can show the problems on the ground in an exemplary way.

The second phase of the project will focus on interdisciplinary workshops in which Reutlingen residents will work together to create useful approaches for adapting to climate change based on their personal experiences and different knowledge. Results from the first phase will be presented at the events. They will serve as a starting point for considerations on how the city of Reutlingen and the specialised authorities of the state, but also everyone potentially affected, can deal with the consequences of climate change on the ground in Reutlingen.

Publications relevant to the project

Academic papers

  • Bruns, A., Meisch, S., Ahmed, A., Meissner, R., Romero-Lankao, P. (2022): Nexus disrupted: Lived realities and the water-energy-food nexus from an infrastructure perspective. In: Geoforum 133, 79-88.
  • Meisch, S., Bremer, S., Young, M.T., Funtowicz, S. (2022): Extended Peer Communities: Appraising the contributions of tacit knowledges in climate change decision-making. In: Futures 135, 102868.
  • Bremer, S., Glavovic, B., Meisch, S., Schneider, P., Wardekker, A. (2021): Beyond rules: How institutional cultures and climate governance interact. In: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 12(6), e739.
  • Meisch, S. (2019): I Want to Tell You a Story: How Narrative Water Ethics Contributes to Re-theorizing Water Politics. In: Water 11(4), 631;
  • Bremer, S., Meisch, S. (2017): Co-production in climate change research: reviewing different perspectives. In: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 8(6), 1-22.
  • Leese, M., Meisch, S. (2015): Securitising sustainability? Questioning the ‘water, energy and food-security nexus’. In: Water Alternatives 8(1), 584-598.

Newspaper Articles:

  • »Ein Weiter-So nicht mehr möglich«, in: Reutlinger General-Anzeiger vom 28. Juni 2023.

  • »Klima - Ist Reutlingen für Extremwetter gerüstet? Aufklärung ist das A und O«, in: Reutlinger General-Anzeiger vom 29. April 2023.