Ocean Ethics 

The Paris Climate Meetings in December brought attention to the alarming state of the oceans.  During the meetings, a new initiative, Because the Ocean, was announced by the Global Ocean Commission, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and Tara Expeditions, among others, along with a Declaration calling for renewed commitment to ocean health, and developing an Ocean Action Plan under the UNFCC.  On 19 January 2016 The Blue Economy Declaration was adopted at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, as guidance for the new SDG 14 on sustainable oceans.  

What needs to happen?  The big challenge for oceans is not science so much as governance. "Science informs the issue," says Carl Safina in this 3-min. video, "but the issue is a moral issue", which is why the interfaith Ocean Ethics Campaign has been launched.

Even the Cruise Lines are getting involved.
Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced they were each teaming up with environmental NGOs (The Nature Conservancy and WWF, respectively) in the name of ocean conservation.

New Briefs

Human Right to Water in Flint, Michigan. 
Remember when Detroit was in the news for turning off water connections to the poor?  The neighboring city of Flint keeps the water flowing but it's not safe to drink!  For details, see this story from Circle of Blue, and listen to this podcast from Democracy Now.  Michael Moore, the award-winning documentary film-maker, is a resident of Flint and offers this perspective.

Public Trust Doctrine for the Great Lakes
In its latest report, the International Joint Commission recommends that U.S. and Canadian authorities embrace the legal doctrine of "public trust" to promote the the lakes' environmental health  tool for overseeing the lakes’ safety.

To Read

Water Education: Cultivating Water Thinking, a post by Jeremy Solin on the Waters of Wisconsin blog.

There's no "big fix" for drought, says water ethics writer, Cynthia Barnett in this interview, from the blog, Water Deeply.

Water Technology Futures presents outcomes from Singapore International Water Week's Technology and Innovation Summit 2015 which can help us imagine new ways to operationalize water values.

Ten Paths Out of Extreme Water Scarcity is the theme of this Global Water Forum report by Joep Schyns.  His suggestions could be readily adapted into ethical principles.

The UN Watercourses Convention: A milestone in the history of international water law, a Global Water Forum report by Ariel Litke and Alistair Rieu-Clarke  summarizes the convention's key (ethical) principles.

A political economy of environmental impact assessment in the Mekong region, a paper by Andrew Wells-Dang et al. in the current issue of Water Alternatives, analyzes how EIAs are regarded by key water actors within the Mekong Basin.

The Italian water movement and the politics of the commons: A tale of three narratives by Chiara Carrozza and Emanuele Fantini in Water Alternatives, explores how urban water functions as a commons.

Local institutions and governance of the water commons, a Global Water Forum report by Haiyan Helen Yu discusses a case study of IWRM in rural China,

Cultural Heritages of Water in the Middle-East and the Maghreb, a new report from ICOMOS, is a guide to recognizing and protecting important water heritage, that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Global Risks Report 2016 from World Economic Forum, ranks water as the top long-term risk.

Developing A Global Water Stewardship System by AWS' Xu, Xi & Spencer discuss the Water Stewardship Standard based on the experience of Ecolab's China pilot project. 

Living in Harmony with Nature to Transform Our World: The CBD's Contribution to SDG Implementation, by Stefan Jungcurt, an IISD Policy Update on the strategy of the Convention on Biological Diversity to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

China's Top Court Upholds Record Penalty of $26m for water pollution (from China Daily) offers hope that river polluters can be held accountable.

Mekong drought plan raises concerns.  Plans are afoot to divert yet more irrigation water from the Mekong raising a classic conflict between agriculture and river ecology.

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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Call for Papers

Indigenous Peoples and the Politics of Water, a special issue of the journal, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society.  Deadline for abstracts is April 4.

Featured Song

Everywhere is a Gila, a rap description of the "billion dollar boondoggle" that would gravely damage New Mexico's Gila River, by local poet, Hakim Bellamy, posted on the website,

Featured Organization

Great Lakes Commons is developing a basin-wide alliance around a new vision for the US-Canadian Great Lakes.

Featured Ritual

Seven Weeks for Water 2016 (link to Ecumenical Water Network), encourages reflection about water during the period of Lent.

Featured Videos

A Hand Pump tells the story of a village in Odisha, India, organizing to claim their rights to clean drinking water (from India Water Portal)

Water in the Wilderness (7 min) portrays traditional water management in Pakistan.

Upcoming Events

World Water Day March 22  The official UN theme is "Better water, better jobs"  which is also the theme of  the World Water Development Report to be released on that day.

Designing Moral Technologies – Theoretical, Practical and Ethical Issues
July 10-15, 2016 will be held near Ascona, Switzerland, organized by the Univ. of Zurich.  

Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) Forum will be held 29 Nov-1 Dec. 2016 in Abidjan, Côte, and will explore how to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in rural areas and small towns.

Recent Events

16th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment (NCSE) held in Washington DC January 19-21, focused on the water-energy-food-environment nexus.  See the detailed agenda.

Arts Corner

The Watermark Project is an ever-growing tapestry of Canadian water stories.  View the whole archive here

The Watershed project asks, "How are we supposed to commune with Water as we once did?"  The Water Shed offers a space and a moment to do so, to refresh ourselves with the simple truth: we are water.


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Last Updated February 2016

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