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Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis - Kyoto, Oct 2013
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Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis - Kyoto, Oct 2013


Presentation at Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan

Presentation at Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan

Published in Technology , Business
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  • 1. Water-Culture Institute Water Ethics: A values approach to solving the water crisis David Groenfeldt, Director Water-Culture Institute
  • 2. Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Background to water ethics Ethics of River Management Ethics of Irrigation Ethics of Urban Water Use Ethics of Industrial Water Use Ethics of Water Governance Indigenous Water Ethics Towards a New Water Ethic
  • 3. 1. Values, Ethics, and Policies • Policies are expressions of values. • Values “serve as standards…to guide not only action but also judgement, choice, attitude, evaluation, argument [and] rationalization” (Rokeach 2000) • Values are often shared by a society, community, or “culture” • Ethics are the practical application of values – You give money to the poor • Policies are the formal or legal application of values – The government gives monthly payments to the poor • Values, ethics, and policies, are dynamic; they change.
  • 4. Why Bother with Water Ethics? • Ethics influence how we use water and set policies. – How can we govern water without knowing the goals of our governance? – “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – You can’t govern without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. • Recognized topic in Water Management for the past 20 years
  • 5. Intellectual History of Water Ethics 1993 – Sandra Postel included a chapter on water ethics in her book, Last Oasis. Water and Ethics O V E RV IE W 1997-2004 – UNESCO produced 11 reports on Water and Ethics 2007 – Botin Foundation published edited volume, Water Ethics 2010 – Water Ethics: Foundational Readings (by Brown and Schmidt) Jerome Delli Priscoli, James Dooge and Ramón L lamas UNESCO International Hydrological Programme World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology
  • 6. Categories of Water Ethics Environmental Social Cultural Economic Ecosystem Management Habitat, flow/recharge Soil/climate Recreation Environ flow, Fishing/hunting landscape Education Ecosystem services Water Use (Agriculture, Urban, Industrial) Protect water quality and quantity Human right to water Food and cultural sovereignty efficiency Governance Arrangements Include nature in governance goals Community empowerment Traditional leadership roles Management performance, effectiveness
  • 7. 2. Ethics of River Management • Economic ethics: – Meet economic demands of people & businesses – Protect economic value of ecosystem services • Environmental ethics: – Right of river to enjoy good ecological health – Concern for plants and animals (and fish, insects, even microbes… ) • Social ethics: – Equity and “hydrological justice” – Recreation and enjoyment • Cultural ethics – Spiritual significance of the river – Rights of Indigenous Peoples to ancestral territory
  • 8. Ethical Challenges •Are dams good or bad? On what basis should we form an opinion?
  • 9. Example: Santa Fe River Watershed (New Mexico, USA)
  • 10. Jetty Jacks along the Rio Grande, New Mexico
  • 11. 3. Ethics of Irrigation • What functions? – Maximize production as sole function? or… – Multiple functions: • Ecosystem services (habitat, CO2, flood mitigation, etc) • Social benefits (employment, nutrition, community empowerment) • Culture heritage (identity, agro-tourism) • What kind of agriculture and food system? – Large-scale Industrial? or small-scale Agro-ecology? – Processed food? Or fresh local produce?
  • 12. “Agriculture is multifunctional. It provides food, feed, fiber, fuel and other goods. It also has a major influence on other essential ecosystem services such as water supply and carbon sequestration or release. Agriculture plays an important social role, providing employment and a way of life. Both agriculture and its products are a medium of cultural transmission and cultural practices worldwide.”
  • 13. 4. Ethics of Urban Water Use • What is the “frame”? – Domestic water supply only or whole watershed? – Water for people, nature, and the cityscape? (IUWM) • What kind of water services? – Decentralized or centralized wastewater treatment – Choice of technologies • Industrial vs. ecosystem-based • Investments in water saving technologies? • What kind of governance? – Public – private – or common?
  • 14. 5. Ethics of Industrial Water Use • Water stewardship – Minimize “water footprint” and protect sources of water supply • Water ethics (level#1) – Consider social, environmental and cultural impacts [Ex: Swedish Textile Water Initiative] • Water ethics (level #2) – Consider what is being produced and those impacts (e.g., coal mining => environ/health)
  • 15. Example: Swedish Textile Water Initiative
  • 16. 6. Ethics of Water Governance Q. What is the goal of water governance? A-1 A-2 A-3 A-4 Ensure efficient water management (economic ethic) Promote community empowerment (social ethic) Protect water ecosystems (environmental ethic) Support traditional cultures (cultural ethic) • Governance can be “multifunctional” – Irrigation water user Associations – Rural/urban community water supply groups – River basin organizations
  • 17. First European River Prize (2013) awarded to the Rhine River and the Rhine River Commission.
  • 18. 7. Indigenous Water Ethics “We were placed in a sacred manner on this earth, each in our own sacred and traditional lands and territories to care for all of creation and to care for water. [from: Indigenous Peoples’ Kyoto Water Declaration, 2003]
  • 19. Two Levels of Indigenous Water Ethics 1. Ethics of Indigenous Peoples provides a “counter narrative” to Western materialism – – Leave nature alone until we “need” the natural resources Find ways to respectfully use Nature 1. Our own (Western) ethics need to accommodate Indigenous Peoples’ “right to be different” – – Respect their right to their ancestral lands and process of “free, prior and informed consent” Respect their right to customary use of water ecosystems (e.g., the Mekong River…)
  • 20. Coal mine in tribal area of Chhattisgargh, India
  • 21. 8. Towards a New Ethic • Building blocks for a new ethic are already in place: – Dublin Principles for IWRM (1992) • Participatory governance • Principle of “responsible use” – EU Water Framework Directive (2001) – UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) – UN Human Right to Water (2010) – Water Stewardship “Standard” (2013)
  • 22. Next Step: “Water Ethics Charter” • Recommendation from 2012 World Water Forum in Marseille • “Charter” Concept: – – – – short (2-page) statement of principles developed by representative stakeholder groups endorsements by cities, corporations, agencies will be presented at 2015 Water Forum in Korea • [See for updates]
  • 23. Implications for Future Earth… • Ethics are key to success of new sustainability paradigm • Need to address ethics directly – analyze actual ethics to identify gaps between the values we are actually expressing and the values we would like to express. – develop strategy for changing the ethics • Research • Education • outreach
  • 24. Thank You!