The Water Ethics Network facilitates sharing of experience, ideas, and information about events and activities relating to water ethics. The aim is to bring an awareness of water ethics into the everyday discourse of water policies and management decisions, so that choices about water use and water ecosystem management are consciously informed by values.
Water Ethics Newsletter
   March 2013

World Water Day - March 22

World Water Day has become an important opportunity to raise awareness with events around the world. Click here for a list of international events from UN Water.  Here is our own list of offerings:  
Water Policies and Climate Change
  • The Water, Climate and Development Program organized a Technical Coordination workshop in Pretoria last month (click here for agenda). The conference website contains an overview of the conference and links to background documents.
  • The WSP (Water and Sanitation Program) and the Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP) offered a free webinar last month on water and climate resilience from the perspective of the insurance industry.  This was a follow-on to a November 2012 webinar sponsored by the Polis Water Project.
  • An EU workshop on Halting Desertification in the Júcar River Basin, Spain identifies water management measures that have wider applicability.  Click here for the workshop conclusions, and for a list of presentations.
  • Building water resilience through ecosystem-based adaptation is the advice offered in the German-funded report, "Mainstreaming climate change adaptation in national level planning" focusing on Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. Click here to download (2 MB).

Environmental Flow Norm for Mexico
A new Mexican "Norm" establishes a national procedure to determine eflows in hydrological basins and acknowledges the environment as the supplier of the resource, thus representing a decisive step in Mexico’s shift to managing water savings rather than scarcity.  Environmental flows are defined by the National Water Law as the amount of water that must be maintained in an aquifer, stream or water body, in order to protect environmental conditions and ecological balance within a hydrological basin.  Click here for details [from].

Urban Lake Ethics 
Puttenahalli Lake in Bangalore, India is an example of what people can do to restore a lake, and also recharge the water table. Seeing a 13 acre lake misused to the point of becoming extinct, four local residents launched an awareness campaign in the neighborhood and built a strong base of goodwill and support which in turn attracted local government interest.  Click here for a short video; another video describes the restoration of
Katikondrahalli Lake [from a blogpost by Usha Rajagopalan].

Other News
  • Murray Darling River Agreement.  The government will devote $US 1.77 billion to purchase water rights from current users that will be reserved for the environment, updates to irrigation infrastructure, and smarter water management.  [from Circle of Blue]
  • Water as a Human Right.  The European Citizens Initiative (ECI) ‘Water is a Human Right’ became the first ECI in the history of the European Union to have collected over 1 million signatures.
  • UN Statement on water and sanitation inequities calls for the post-2015 development agenda to prioritize access to water and sanitation for vulnerable populations.
To Read / Watch

CEO Water Mandate Conference, "Corporate Water Stewardship And The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Drawing From The India Experience", Mumbai, March 5, 2013 provides a revealing look at corporate water ethics, particularly in the concluding panel discussion (YouTube).

Green growth and alternative water allocation mechanisms. Presentations from a workshop on Water Allocation and Green Growth, 22–23 Nov. 2012 in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Extractive Industries Source Book (draft chapter on sustainable development) outlines "Good-Fit Practice Activities in the International Oil, Gas, and Mining Industries."  [Thanks to Daniel Gilbert for this info.]

Reconciliation with the river: Analysis of a concept emerging from practice, by Rafael Ziegler, Greifswald Environmental Ethics Papers, Sept. 2012, highlights the case of a small river in NE Germany to suggest how we can restore not only rivers, but our strained relationships with those rivers.

Finding Ground for a Relational Ethic, by Emily Nguyen-Vo, Minding Nature, Issue 18, reviews recent theories about the relationship between humans and nature.

Letting it Flow: Towards a Phenomenology of Water in the Age of Modern Technology by Remmon E. Barbaza, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, in Kritika Kultura, 2012  [Thanks to Jeremy Schmidt for this reference].

Country, Native Title, and Ecology, edited by Jessica Weir, founder and Coordinator of the Australian Center for Land and Water Research (ACLWR), is published by Australian National University as a free(!) ebook which explores contemporary Aboriginal relationships to "country". 

Water Infrastructure in West Africa: Guidelines for Development.  A manual from the Water Resources Centre of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Water Cooperation. UNW-DPAC has produced a series of information briefs
for the International Year of Water Cooperation, including
Water Cooperation and 
Alternative Dispute Resolution  

The Missing Ethics of Mining by Shefa Siegel, in the current issue of Ethics and International Affairs highlights the lack of explicit social, land and water ethics in the mining industry.

Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change, and why politicians cannot ethically substitute their own uninformed opinions for science in setting policy. Donald Brown ( a lawyer and climate activist, provides a succint video (11 min.) and blogpost featuring, inter alia, two climate denying American politicians, Mark Rubio and James Inholfe.

eFlow Newsletter.  The March issue of the eFlow newsletter, available from, provides a range of news about environmental water ethics. 

Remunicipalization is a new book by the Transnational Institute ( describing how the pendulum is swinging back to a preference for public management of urban water utilities.  A related video highlights the remunicipalization experience of Buenos Aires and Paris.

Environmental Flows: Saving Rivers in the Third Millennium, a new book by Angela H. Arthington (University of California Press) demonstrates how the new ecological ethic of e-flow is making a difference for rivers. 

A Practical Guide to Environmental Flows for Policy and Planning in the United States, a new report from The Nature Conservancy explores how six US states and three interstate river basins are effectively developing and implementing regionalized eflows criteria in water resource planning.

Maintaining a River’s Healthy Life? An Inquiry on Water Ethics and Water Praxis in the Upstream Region of China’s Yellow River, by Lilin Kerschbaumer and Konrad Ott, Water Alternatives, Vol. 6, Issue 1.

Water and Agriculture in Canada: Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources is a new report by the Council of Canadian Academies, and sets a valuable precedent for holding agriculture accountable to standards of sustainable water use.

Governing International Watercourses: River Basin Organizations and the Sustainable Governance of Internationally Shared Rivers and Lakes, is a new book by Susanne Schmeier, published by Earthscan.

Measuring Progress towards an Inclusive Green Economy,  introduces a framework for the use of indicators in tracking green economy policies. (from UNEP, Dec. 2012)

Mercury: Time to Act  is not about the climate getting warmer, but about the global treaty on mercury, with updates from the UNEP Global Mercury Assessment 2013.

Refining the water footprint concept to account for non-renewable water resources, by Sarah Dickin, is a new report from The Global Water Forum.  The paper proposes accounting separately for non-renewable vs. renewable groundwater use.

Thank-you to our sponsors!
The Water Ethics Newsletter is an initiative of the Water-Culture Institute and is made possible through a generous grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation

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Internship Opportunity with the Water Ethics Network.
We have an immediate opening for a "Social Media Intern" to manage the Network's Twitter and Facebook sites.  This would be a great opportunity to learn about water ethics while contributing to the work of the Network.  Click here for details.

AWRA Session on Water Ethics
The Water Ethics Network is organizing a session on 'Ethical Considerations in Water Resources Management" at the 2013 annual meetings of the American Water Resources Association in Portland, Oregon, November 4-7.  You are cordially invited to present a paper in the session.  Click here for the session description and contact info.  Paper abstracts are due by May 10.

Call for Papers
The Journal of Hydrology is inviting papers for a special issue on Social Science and Hydrology.  Abstracts are due May 8.   Click here for details.

Featured Organizations

The POLIS Project on Ecological Governance Water Sustainability Project focuses on fundamental governance issues, such as long-term, comprehensive, watershed-based planning and innovative institutional and ecosystem-based legal reforms.  Click for their latest newsletter.

Australian Wild Law Alliance (AWLA) promotes the understanding and practical implementation of Earth Jurisprudence and Wild Law in Australia.  AWLA is a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, which brings together more than 60 organizations around the world, who support Earth Jurisprudence and rights of nature.


Fleuves Perdus (Lost Rivers)- trailer for a new documentary tracing the re-discovery of lost rivers in Montreal and cities around the world

One Water - A fast-paced, 3-minute trailer of the a movie aimed at "bringing awareness to the global water challenge". 


> Workshop on Religious and Spiritual Perspectives on Climate Engineering, April 24-26, Potsdam, Germany.  Click here for details, or contact Dieter Gerten: gerten [at]

> 5th Delft Symposium on Water Sector Capacity Development, "Developing Capacity from Rio to Reality: Who's Taking the Lead?" 29-31 May 2013.  The Water Ethics Network is co-organizing a session along with the Water Integrity Network. Contact DGroenfeldt [at]

> European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) 2013 biennial conference ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’ will be held in Munich, Germany, 20-24 August 2013. 

> World Water Week in Stockholm, September 1-6, 2013, will have the theme "Water Cooperation - Building Partnerships".

> First European River Restoration Conference, 11-13 Sept. 2013 is an opportunity to share and learn about the successes and challenges of river restoration

> 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory "WATER WAYS: The Ethnohistories of People and Water"  11-15 Sept. in New Orleans, focuses on the ethnohistories of people and water.

> Australian Wild Law Alliance Conference,“Living within our ecological limits: law and governance to nurture the Earth community”
27-29 Sept. 2013 in Brisbane.

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Last Updated March 2013

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