"Exploring the Ethics of Water Decisions"
Water Ethics Newsletter
February 2015

The Value of Cooperation

Transboundary water cooperation generates economic, social and environmental benefits, as well as spill-over effects of regional cooperation and peace-building.  This was the theme of the workshop, Beyond water: Identifying, assessing and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation, hosted by the government of Estonia on 28-29 January, with support from UNECE and UNDP.   See the Policy Guidance Note (2MB) and case studies of the Jordan River, the Mekong Basin, the Danube Basin, the Isfara River (Central Asia), and this summary of main points.

Water Cities of the Future

Several global networks of cities have formed a partnership for a water-secure world (link to World Water Council press release).  UN-Habitat, ICLEI, UCLG, and Daegu Gyeongbuk Development Institute (Korea) aim to advance progress on the 2009 Istanbul Water Consensus. And what will the Water City of the Future look like?   Let's hope it looks like this 5 min. video from the SWITCH project.

News Briefs

Fracking.  Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Integrated Assessment Draft Report just released on 20 Feb. is open for public comment until 20 March.  This is an opportunity to introduce an ethical perspective on fracking risks. For a summary and background, see this article from Water World

Pollution.  Half of EU's Freshwaters Suffer from Chemical Pollution, reports the EU "Science for Environmental Policy" news service in its 29 January edition.  The basis for this alarming report is this research study published by E. Malaj et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2014. [Thanks to The Water Network for this info.]

Water Risk.  The World Economic Forum's Global Risk Report 2015 has declared water to be the #1 risk to the world economy...for the third year in a row!  

SDG Water Goal.  GWP has launched a Campaign for a SDG Water Goal.  The UN's draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a water goal (Goal #6), which goes beyond water supply and sanitation, encompassing sustainable water resources management.  The campaign aims to protect this language into the final draft.

Wetlands.  World Wetlands Day was 2 February (also Groundhog Day in the US and Candlemas in Germany).  A few days later, CIFOR released its new wetlands protection toolkit.


Anticipating a Broader Role for Basin Organizations in the Post-2015 Era, an IISD blog plast by Delia Paul.

Maintaining the Mekong: Using ecosystem payments to secure a global food-security asset, a Global Water Forum policy brief by David Fullbrook.

Securitising Sustainability? Questioning the 'Water, Energy and Food-Security Nexus'  by Matthias Leese and Simon Meisch, in the current issue of Water Alternatives, suggest that the poor are being further marginalized as the paradigm of water "security" replaces "sustainability".

How to Engage with the Public.  This report from Stockholm Environment Institute's program, WeAdapt, reviews methods of forging an environmental sensibility within civil society.  For a different (and more humorous) approach to the same theme, see this 10 min. video from Comedian Marcus Brigstocke.

The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in Courts Worldwide: A Selection of National, Regional and International Case Law, a report from WaterLex and WASH United, is a resource for crafting legal challenges to violations of the human right to water and sanitation.

Water, sanitation and hygiene and indigenous peoples: a review of the literature, by A. Jiménez, M. Cortobius & M. Kjellén in Water International, 39:3, 277-293 (2014).

Building Peace Over Water in the Lower Jordan Valley: A Sister Cities Coalition features a 2.5 hour videocast of an event at the Wilson Center (Washington, DC) in October 2014 featuring the word of EcoPeace. Read the event description first and you might want to watch the whole thing!

Learning to really "see" water:  The Transect as a Method for Mapping and Narrating Water Landscapes, is a research report by L. Diedrich, G. Lee, and E. Braae from New American Notes Online.

Wastewater Management:  A UN-Water Analytical Brief, calls for prioritizing wastewater treatment through a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water, highlighting that only 20% of the world's wastewater is currently being treated.

Five Solutions for the Colorado River - A report from American Rivers and Western Resource Advocates proposes how to fix this endangered North American river. 

Seeds: The Battle for Sustainable Agriculture, from Revolve Magazine.  Since most water is used for agriculture, and most agriculture depends on seeds, the quality and source of those seeds becomes a water concern.

Access to water in informal settlements:  The case of Ouagadougou provides a valuable glimpse of water beyond the official lines of supply (from Climate Change and Water Newsletter).

Our global water towers : ensuring ecosystem services from mountains under climate change, an IUCN policy brief, by Paul Egan and Martin Price.

Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet, by Wil Steffen et al., from Science, 13 February 2015.  This update of the "planetary boundaries" concept includes a spatially explicit assessment of environmental flow requirements.  (Thanks to Dieter Gerten for this info.)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Integration: Achieving a better balance between the economic, social and environmental dimensions, a report from Stakeholder Forum.

Water and Energy Factbook, from SBC Energy Institute allows you to impress friends and colleagues with water facts!

The Extraction-Based Model and Conflict over Natural Resources in Bolivia, a blog post by Alcides Vadillo, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA) from the newsletter of Environmental Conflict and Cooperation

Concept of the Sanitation Ladder - An interesting discussion thread on the website of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship, a from CEO Water Mandate.

Sciences sociales de l’eau  Summary proceedings of a conference held 4-5 Dec. 2014 in Strasbourg, France, from the website of GESTE, Gestion Territoriale de l'Eau et de l'Environnement.

Coordinating Land and Water Governance, a "Perspective Paper" from Global Water Partnership.

Fresh resolve to restore the polluted Ganga (article from Circle of Blue) is an update of India's latest plans for helping its iconic river.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Saving Water from Rice Production, a new report from World Resources Institute, provides two good reasons (methane and water) for embracing the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) approach.

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The Water Ethics Newsletter is an initiative of the Water-Culture Institute and is made possible through a generous grant from Kalliopeia Foundation

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Art Corner

What the River Knows, a blog post, with photos, by Basia Irland, about the Ping River in northern Thailand (from the National Geographic website).

Water in India: Notes from the Field, a portfolio of photographs by Ehmaq.

Virtual water photo gallery on the website of the 7th World Water Forum.

Featured Videos

Caring for Creation and the Common Good (14 min.) portrays the concern of Catholic bishops along the Columbia Basin for restoring the health of the river and the local communities.

One River - Ethics Matter (19 min.) is a documentary of the 2014 conference on "Ethics and the Columbia River Treaty: Righting Historic Wrongs".

Featured Project

Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration (ELOHA) Toolbox is a platform and technical resource of case studies, references, links, and ideas about environmental flow, from The Nature Conservancy. 


The book, Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis, by David Groenfeldt, has been designated an Outstanding Academic Title for 2014 by CHOICE Reviews.  See this announcement from Routledge.

The Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India is inviting papers on Split Waters - Examining Conflicts Related to Water and Their Narration

Upcoming Events

World Water Day is March 22.  Register your event and learn what others are doing at the UN Water website for World Water Day 2015.

7th World Water Forum, South Korea, 12-17 April.  The mother of all water conferences will include nearly every topic imaginable that relates to water, including two sessions on water ethics, and an exhibit booth featuring the Water Ethics Charter initiative.

Conference on Water Ethics at Viterbo University (La Crosse, Wisconsin)
April 16-18, 2015, will feature prominent figures in the emerging field of water ethics.

Third International Workshop on Instream Flows "Protecting Rivers and Lakes in the Face of Uncertainty" in Portland, Oregon, April 28-30, 2015.

Third International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development, Ryerson University, Toronto, 7-11 June 2015.  Deadline for proposals: March 30

Adaptation Futures 2016:  4th International climate change adaptation conference, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 10-13 May 2016, will address all sectors and all parts of the world, with a special focus on urban and coastal areas.

Featured App

The Water Project Toolkit App provides guidance and information on best practices for implementing water and sanitation projects in the developing world. The App gives access to analytical tools as well as operational checklists to guide you throughout the project lifecycle

Water Innovations

Top 10 companies making waves in water innovation.  This blogpost by Heather Clancy of GreenBiz celebrates creative organizations in the water world.

Top 25 "innovators and thought leaders" in the water industry were identified by polling the subscribers to Water World magazine.

Comedy Corner

The organization, Cheat Neutral, is a spoof on the logic of environmental offsetting, as explained in this 10 min. video.  


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Last Updated February 2015

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