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
   July-August  2012

Ethics of Sponsoring the London Olympics 
The London Mining Network caused a minor stir in London by awarding "Greenwash" medals to Rio Tinto, BP, and Dow, all major sponsors of the Olympics, for socially and environmentally destructive practices, including water pollution. Rio Tinto  Greenwash Gold staff were joined by representatives from United Steelworkers in a mock awards ceremony in Trafalgar Square before police arrested six of the demonstrators (click here for video). [Thanks to Circle of Blue for this news.]

CEO Water Mandate 
As if compensating for their corporate brothers in London, a group of 45 CEOs issued a special Communique at the Rio+20 meetings in June, urging governments and businesses to "make water sustainability a priority."   The CEOs are all involved in the CEO Water Mandate, the water initiative of the Global Compact, a UN and business alliance.

Indigenous Water Culture in Australia
In a newly released position statement, the Australian National Water Commission has recommended greater access to water by Indigenous communities for cultural purposes: "Cultural and environmental values and their water requirements should be determined independently, but integrated for management purposes where possible."  Click here for the full document.  [Thanks to Kat Selena for this news item.]

Ground Water in Africa...and Texas
Recent news reports that Africa's ground water resources may be 20 times greater than the continent's surface water raises the issue of ethical use.  Hopefully they will not follow the example of Texas where a recent court ruling upheld the rights of landowners to pump as much water as they can.  A 2007 editorial by Mary Anderson in the journal of the (US) National Groundwater Associationon proposed that we should respect the rights of aquifers, while a recent book chapter by Ramon Llamas and Luis Martinez-Cortina offers specific guidance for operationalizing ground water ethics.  We seem to be making a bit more progress with surface water ethics.  Colorado is considering a new law that would recognize healthy streams as a public trust.

Earth Charter's 20th Anniversary
The Earth Charter grew out of the 1992 Rio Conference and used the occasion of Rio+20 to promote a series of "Sustainability Treaties."  See espectially the People's sustainability treaty on ethical and spiritual values for sustainable development, [click here] drafted by Rick Clugston from Earth Charter-USA, and the Peoples' sustainability treaty on rights of mother earth, (click here) drafted by Linda Sheehan from EarthLaw Institute.  For more about about Earthcharter, see the Earthcharter webpage on Rio+20 activities. 

Alliance for Water Stewardship - Update
While the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) digests the public input on the draft Water Stewardship Standard (see the May Newsletter for background), the organization is reinventing its structure and is looking for ideas that will enhance its multi-stakeholder governance. Click here for details and to see if you'd like to get involved.  The AWS is undoubtedly the most active ongoing program addressing the ethical dimensions of water and deserves our interest and support.
To Read...
Freshwater Ecoregions of the World, (FEOW), a collaborative project by WWF and The Nature Conservancy, presents a "biogeographic regionalization" of the Earth's freshwater biodiversity for virtually all freshwater habitats on Earth.   It provides a "global-scale knowledge base for increasing freshwater biogeographic literacy. "

Pipe Dreams a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, reveals that a new generation of proposed pipeline projects lack adequate analysis of climate change, the availability of water, and energy use, and should consider more reliable alternatives such as water efficiency.  
Village wastewater treatment in China - This guide presents a framework and strategies for establishing municipal and village level wastewater management programs in line with the country’s New Socialist Countryside Initiative. 
Rivers for Life: The Case for Conservation Priorities in the Face of Water Infrastructure Development".  This Dec. 2011 report showcases some of WWF’s freshwater programs in the Amazon, Austria, China, India, the Mekong, and Mexico.
Learning to live with flood risk.  Finding ways to protect people from floods in China, without harming river ecosystems is the topic of this ADB report.
Ethics of Demand Management:  Using a case study of Guiyang in Guizhou province, China, where severe drought in 2010 left 725,000 people without drinking water and 170,000 needing grain rations to survive, this ADB report demonstrates the economic, ecological benefits from improved demand management. 
Alternative Water Futures in Alberta, Canada, a report from the Parkland Institute written by Jeremy Schmidt, advocates "non-market" water solutions as better for the environment, public interest, and First Nations.  
Oxford reports on Water Security, Risk, and Society from the Water Security, Risk and Society conference held at Oxford University on 16-18 April 2012. A series of reports is available, including a Summary Report on Key Issues and Research Priorities for International Development:

Papers presented at the Yale Summer Symposium on Religion and Environmental Stewardship are available here.   See especially the paper by Larry Rasmussen, entitled New Wineskins, which refers to the new paradigm for living that we need to embrace, rather than trying to tinker further with the old paradigm.  

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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Upcoming Events

IUCN World Conservation Congress, 6-15 Sept. in Jeju, Korea. Kathryn Kintzele (Center for Humans and Nature, and also an advisor to this Network) will lead a session on Integrating Ethics into the Management of Water Ecosystems on 7 Sept.  See session details.

The Ethics of Water—everything flows from here  is a conference hosted by Delaware Valley College, in Doylestown, PA (USA), October 11-12, 2012. For details, see the conference announcement.  The Water Ethics Network will be organizing one of the panel presentations.

Euroopean Society for Environmental History (ESEH) 2013 biennial conference ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’ will be held in Munich, Germany from 20-24 August 2013.  The deadline for submitting session proposals and paper abstracts is 15 October.

Featured Films

The River Where We Live.  Filmmaker Sylvain L'Esperance follows the people of the Niger River Delta in Mali, and presents a human portrait of the river.  The full 52 min. documentary can be seen on Youtube, or the DVD can be purchased from Third World Newsreel. [Thanks to Jeremy Schmidt for this info.] 

Last Call at the Oasis, directed by Jessica Yu, presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.  Click here for a review of the film from the New York Times.

Featured Organization

Global Nature Fund based in Germany, has the objective "to foster the protection of nature and environment as well as animals"  The Living Lakes Network is the Fund's largest program and comprises 33 international partner lakes, and 55 national partner organizations. Each year the Network identifies the "Threatened Lake of the Year" which for 2012 is Lake Titicaca between Peru and Bolivia. Of particular interest to the Water Ethics Network is the Proceedings of the Lakes Network's 2008 conference, "Linking Cultural Values to Lake Protection."
Featured Water Art

Water Colors - Ten unnaturally dyed polluted rivers from WebEcoist.

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Last Updated August 2012

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