Water Ethics and Ecosystems, World Water Forum, March 2012, Marseille

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The protection of water ecosystems depends on supportive values (ethics), and analyzing those ethics can contribute to conservation strategies. (Presented as part of a WWF-sponsored session at the …

The protection of water ecosystems depends on supportive values (ethics), and analyzing those ethics can contribute to conservation strategies. (Presented as part of a WWF-sponsored session at the World Water Forum)

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  • 1. Water Ethics for People and Ecosystems David Groenfeldt, Director Water-Culture Institute 14 March, 2012 dgroenfeldt@waterculture.org
  • 2. Why Worry about Water Ethics? Cultural and individual values motivate water behavior; Values/ethics constitute an important (but usually neglected) dimension of water governance; Current management of water ecosystems is unsustainable; Values can and do change; We can improve water governance through managing values.
  • 3. An Alternative to “Payment for Ecosystem Services” “Payment” is a management tool Let’s call it “management” instead of “payment” “Ecosystem services” are defined through a lens of cultural values (ethics) Which services are given priority? (a cultural and ethical judgment) Integrate the management of ecosystem services with the management of other benefit categories (social, cultural) Let’s call these benefits “ethical services” “Management for Ethical Services” = MES
  • 4. What Ethics? Where are they? 1. Choices about how ecosystems are managed Rivers, lakes, wetlands Aquifers 2. Decisions about how water is used Agriculture Urban / domestic Industrial 3. Priorities in how water is governed Participation Equity
  • 5. 1. Ethical Choices in Ecosystem Management Physical Manipulation Channel straightening (Rhine, Rio Grande) Levees (“Room for Rivers”) Dams and reservoirs (Mekong) Impacts to Flow Regime / Quantity Environmental Flow concepts (Santa Fe River; TNC Water Funds) Impacts to Water Quality (Territ’Eau) Water quality standards Principle of “Polluter pays”
  • 6. 2. Ethics of Water Use Agriculture (agro-system services) Culture heritage (Agricultural Heritage sites; EU Ag Policy) Social welfare (Large-scale farming – Malaysia Grainary Policy) Environmental sustainability (Finger millet in India) Urban / Domestic Water conservation / reuse [Project WET] Access >Human right to water & sanitation (WASH programs) Industrial / Extractive Reducing use and impacts (Water Footprinting) Community stewardship (Corporate Social Responsibility) Cross-sectoral allocation (IWRM)
  • 7. 3. Ethics of Water Governance Irrigation Farmer/community participation (PIM – INWEPF) Water Supply and Sanitation Human right to water/sanitation (Butterfly Effect) Local vs centralized systems (Eau Vive – Mali) Watersheds and River Basins River Basin Approaches (WFD, Wladir River Commission) Community Watershed Groups (Jal Bhagirathi Foundation)
  • 8. Conclusion: Using Water Ethics to Promote Sustainability Uncover the ethics motivating existing policies and practices ; Help agencies / organizations / communities discover the values underlying their water behavior Develop methodologies for doing this (“ethics analysis”) Incorporate ethical principles into the process of consensus building around water management options Deciding on alternative project / policy strategies Dispute resolution (including transboundry negotiations) Make sure key ethical views (e.g., Indigenous Peoples) are included Build on Environmental Concepts From Environmental Flows to cultural, social, and economic flows From PES  MES
  • 9. New Job Descriptions… Environmental groups Look for synergies with economic, social, and cultural values Policy-makers Consider total “ethical” value of water flows Researchers Case studies and better methodologies for analyzing ethics
  • 10. MERCI / THANK YOU worldwaterforum6.org solutionsforwater.org