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

How Are We Doing?  Corporate Water Stewardship and Reporting

Getting credit for good water ethics helps companies make a "business case" for doing the right thing.  CDP's Global Water Report 2014 (10 MB) was "written on behalf of 573 investors with US$60 trillion in assets".  For an overview of CDP's water program, see this presentation by Cate Lamb (head of CDP's water program) at the UN Water Conference in Zaragosa, Spain, earlier this month.

The CEO Water Mandate, representing some 100 companies that endorse a mandate of six water-related actions, has recently come out with its own set of Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, with input from CDP and other groups.  

A closely related initiative is the Water Stewardship Standard developed by the Alliance for Water Stewardship.  The Standard prescribes what should be done, while the reporting guidelines provide an incentive for doing them.

Fracking and Water Ethics

The Environmental Costs and Benefits of Fracking, by Robert Jackson et al. appears in the current issue of the Annual Review of Environmental Resources, Vol. 39: 327-362, 2014. Click here for a summary of the article from Think to Sustain.  A Global Water Forum Policy Brief on Water Impacts from Fracking, by Ben Roberts-Pierel, also urges caution, while the NGO, Wild Earth Guardians suggests a strict set of fracking guidelines to protect people and the environment in Colorado.

A Charter for the Future

The German government has released its "Charter for the Future", based on citizen responses to the question, ‘What exactly will it take to achieve a unified world vision based on the principles of sustainability and fairness?’  See this blog post by Imme Scholz (German Development Institute).

News Briefs

A Theological Framework for Water Justice has been developed by the Ecumenical Water Network of the World Council of Churches based on a consultation held in Bossey, Switzerland, from 8-11 December.  The proceedings will be published later this year.

Water Management Guidlines for Chemical Production Plants have been issued by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC).

Leo Heller has been named UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, replacing Catarina de Albuquerque.  As Special Rapporteur, Heller will carry out thematic research, undertake country missions, collect good practices and work with key stakeholders on the implementation of the rights to water and sanitation.  More details on the OHCHR website.


The Joint Principles for Adaptation are a statement by civil society organisations from across the world of what they consider to be a benchmark for good adaptation planning, including water.

Targeted Scenario Analysis:  Presenting Ecosystem Service Values for Decision Making (Dec. 2013), is a new guidebook from UNDP intended to overcome the bias of convention when making new design and investment decisions.

Human Rights Standards for Conservation: An Analysis of Responsibilities, Rights and Redress for Conservation, a report from IIED by H. Jonas, D. Roe, and J.E. Makagon. 

Women's Climate Action Agenda a report from WECAN (Women's Earth and Climate Action Network) by O. Orielle Lake, C. Greensfelder, and E. Colligan,  advocates for "an earth-respecting cultural narrative."

Ethical aspects in the economic modeling of water policy options, by A. Biewald, M. Kowarsch, H. Lotze-Campen, and D. Gerten, in Global Environmental Change, presents conceptual tools to analyze and constructively deal with normative assumptions in applied economic models.

The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, a report from the UN Secretary-General to the General Assembly, proposes six "essential elements"
for the post-2015 development agenda: dignity, people, prosperity, planet, justice, and partnerships.

The Mining Working Group’s response to the Secretary-General's report proposes stronger human rights language, particularly for the SDG on the human right to water and sanitation. 
Towards Achieving Food and Nutrition Security, and Changing Course in Global Agriculture, a discussion paper from Biovision-Foundation is also intended as input to the post-2015 development agenda.

Water-focused landscape management, by M. van Noordwijk et. al., is the water chapter from the new book, Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice, published by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Biodiversity Mainstreaming Toolbox for land-use planning and development in Gauteng, (6MB) is a detailed guidance document from ICLEI which, though focusing on 
the region of Johannesburg, South Africa, has broad relevance to both land and water planning everywhere. [Thanks to Leslie Kryder for this info.]

Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West, a discussion paper from Brookings Institute by P. Culp, R. Glennon, and G. Libecap proposes unleashing water markets as a means to save water ecosystems.

SIWW Blue Paper 2014 (3 MB) is a summary report from Singapore International Water Week in June 2014.

Saving the Colorado River Delta, One Habitat at a Time is a report and video from National Geographic about efforts to restore flow to the delta through pulsed releases from the lowermost dam on the system. [Thanks to Sandra Postel for this info.]

Los Angeles, City of Water, a New York Times report by Jacques Leslie, documents how water ethics are changing in this unexpectedly environmentally concerned city.

Vatican statement to the High-Level segment of COP 20 in Lima might be a foretaste of the Pope's highly anticipated encyclical on the environment.

Applying the
Water Stewardship Standard in Australia is the summary of a presentation by Michael Spencer, (Alliance for Water Stewardship), presented at the UN-Water conference in Zaragosa, Jan. 2015.

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 Kalliopeia Foundation

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Featured Initiatives

The River//Cities Platform is a partnership of cultural, environmental and political initiatives to develop local rivers or waterfronts as cultural spaces.

The Ethics & Treaty Project
promotes principles of stewardship and justice in modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, which governs water and dam management on the Columbia River in the NW United States and SW corner of Canada.    

Featured River Hero

Akhil Gogoi was awarded the ' Bhagirath Prayas Samman' for his dedicated efforts to safeguard the integrity of the Subansiri river, in Assam, India

Featured Controversy

Plans to construct the Site C Dam in British Columbia is evidence that the
era of mega dams is not yet over.

Featured Videos

Water Ethics:  Think Like a Watershed (7 min.) was produced for the online course, "Blue is the New Green" taught by Karen Bakker, Univ. of British Columbia. 

Save the Blue Heart of Europe (3 min.) is part of the campaign to safeguard the unique biodiversity of several Balkan rivers at risk from unchecked infrastructure development.

Water Stewardship in Western Port Biosphere, Australia (10 min.), a new video from Alliance for Water Stewardship, presents an interesting case study.

Visualizing Data

Environmental Tracker, developed by UNEP, monitors progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Upcoming Events

Corporate Water Risk 2015: Protecting Resources, Revenues, and Reputation, 29 Jan. 2015 in London

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.  Further details in the next newsletter!

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.

Recent Events

6th European River Restoration Conference was held in Vienna, from 27-29 October 2014.  A special edition of the ERRC newsletter provides a thorough summary.

First International Environment Forum for Basin Organizations,
organized by UNEP and INBO, attracted 45 governments, 25 basin organizations, and others.  See the Forum website for details.

India River Week,
a conclave to enable learning and promote river restoration was held on 24-27 Nov. 2014 in New Delhi, India.

3rd Arab Water Forum, was held 9-11 December, Cairo, Egypt, and featured a session on Water Ethics organized by Water-Culture Institute, Arab Water Council, and GIZ.

Lima Climate Change Conference was held 1-14 December 2014 [Link to Summary Report from IISD Reporting Services]

2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference was held 15-17 January 2015.  Click here for the program agenda. 

Featured Game

Catchment Detox gives you the job of managing a river catchment so that after 100 years you have a healthy economy and a healthy environment.


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Last Updated January 2015

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