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Anne-Lise Boyer

"(...) Les résultats de la thèse de A.-L. Boyer contribuent à l’activité d’au moins deux laboratoires, à savoir iGLOBES (UMI 3157) et EVS (UMR 5600). Y.-F. Le Lay parle du point de vue de l’UMR EVS et souligne son intégration parfaite dans l’équipe grâce à deux qualités. La première est la capacité de la candidate de contribuer à une recherche collective en recourant aux ressources techniques et humaines du laboratoire... La deuxième qualité est le souci de la transmission des savoirs et des savoir-faire.(...)"



From the oasis-city to the desert-city. Urban adaptation to water scarcity in Phoenix and Tucson (Arizona).


In the context of climate change, as droughts intensify and as more areas are subject to high water stress, this dissertation focuses on how to manage the imbalance between water resource availability and growing demand in two metropolises of the arid West of the United States. Located in the Sonoran Desert and built on the model of the oasis city, Phoenix and Tucson take the socio-ecological stakes of water scarcity to the extreme. This study proposes to consider these two cities as laboratories for urban adaptation to climate change to explore competing modalities of adaptation to water scarcity. Using an urban political ecology framework, the goal is to observe and analyze the power struggles between stakeholders involved in water resource management in a context where the system of large hydraulic infrastructures underpinning urban growth is increasingly called into question. This mixed-methods survey brings together critical discourse analysis to deconstruct the dominant arguments and position-takings on water conservation, semi-structured interviews with water sector actors (institutions and environmental activists) and participant observation to question the tensions between discourses and changes in urban practices at the local level for adapting the urban metabolism to a world of less water. This thesis shows, on the one hand, that adaptation strategies are implemented by dominant actors within the framework of socio-ecological fixes in order to maintain the growth trajectory of particularly attractive cities. On the other hand, it highlights the role that citizen empowerment plays in the emergence of alternatives and shows that environmental alternatives play an important role in regulating resource control strategies and overcoming traditional resource-based management paradigms.

Key words

Adaptation, Climate change, Water resources management, Cities, United States, Desert, Environmental Geography

H2O'Lyon thesis Director

Yves-François Le Lay, ENS Lyon

Thesis co-director

Pascal Marty, Université Paris 1, Maison Française d'Oxford

Doctoral School

ED 483 - Sciences Sociales


UMR 5600 EVS

Defence date

15 december 2020

Defence language


Thesis jury members

  • Sylvie Clarimont, Professeure, Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, rapportrice
  • Renaud Le Goix, Professeur, Université Paris Diderot, rapporteur
  • Anne Chin, Professeure, Université du Colorado-Denver, examinatrice
  • François Michel Le Tourneau, Directeur de recherche, CNRS, UMI 3157, examinateur
  • Magali Reghezza-zitt, Maîtresse de conférence HDR, ENS d'ULM, examinatrice
  • Yves-François Le Lay, Professeur, ENS Lyon, co-encadrant
  • Pascal Marty, Professeur, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, Directeur de thèse.