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
   September 2013

Water Ethics - The Book!

Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis has just been published by Earthscan, in their Water Text series.  The author, David Groenfeldt, discusses the ethical dimensions of river management, irrigation, urban water provision, industrial use, governance arrangements, and Indigenous Peoples' relationship with water.  To change water policies and behavior we need to change the prevailing ethics, and for that, we all need to be involved.  Water ethics are too important, and too interconnected with everything else, to leave to water specialists.  [Disclosure: The book's author is also the editor of this newsletter.]

River Health Checkup
The adage that "you can't manage what you don't measure" also applies to the health of river ecosystems.  River Health Check is being developed by WWF-Canada to start measuring how Canada's rivers are doing.  Watch this video for a quick overview.  For the details, see this report on the technical protocol.

Change the Course
A new initiative by the US organization, National Geographic, Change the Course, seeks to restore enough water to the Colorado River that it can once again flow to the Gulf of California.  Under the leadership of Sandra Postel, the program brings together corporate sponsors, who provide the funding, and an innovative concept of "water restoration certificates" developed by the Bonneville Educational Foundation (BEF).  The corporate money pays for restoration activities and sometimes actual water leases, resulting in more water in the river.  BEF interfaces with local river organizations and then certifies the results so the corporate sponsors can legitimately claim that they have helped restore flow to the Colorado river.  Click for Sandra Postel's overview of the program (14 min. video). 

To Read

Post 2015 Water Thematic Consultation Report from UN-Water synthesizes the consultation and also provides links to the key "framing papers" for the various topics.

UN Right to Water Report.  The official title is "Report of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean,
healthy and sustainable environment" (Dec. 2012) by John H. Knox.  For more info, see the website of the Independent Expert.

Have we changed our cultures of urban water? by Lesley Head, Director of the Australian Center for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER), looks at changing water ethics in Australian cities.

Applying ethics:  The EPA needs to set pollution standards for US electric power plants...What (and whose) ethics will those standards reflect?  See this article from Circle of Blue.

The economics of groundwater management.  According to this article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it pays to pump less today so farmers can pump more a decade from now, when crop water use efficiencies will be considerably higher (based on projections). 

IPIECA Water Management Framework for the Oil and Gas Sector was released at World Water Week in Stockholm.  The big issue of fracking is mentioned only once in passing, and you will not find any statement of guiding principles but this short document does provide a window onto the industry's view of what constitutes responsible water management.

Indigenous Message on Water (link to Indiegogo site) is a book anthology of indigenous poetry about water.  Click for a video about the book.

Towards a new water ethic, by David Groenfeldt, appears in the current issue of the GWSP Newsletter.  When all the water declarations are considered together, they form a surprisingly progressive water ethic.

Special Issue on Living Water in the journal, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology 17.2 (2013).  Of particular interest is the article by Veronica Strang, "Going Against the Flow: The Biopolitics of Dams and Diversions."

Realities of rural water.  In an online post for the New York Times, David Bornstein, suggests we need to learn from past failures in providing safe drinking water to rural communities.

The Right to Water and Sanitation Toolkit from the UN Commission on Human Rights is a rich collection of reports about implementing the right to water and sanitation.

On Banning Fracking.  Environmental activist Sandra Steingraber talks about how local communities can make a difference in fighting fracking (from the Bioneers website).

User's Guide on Assessing Water Governance from the UNDP Water Governance Facility, offers a way of measuring governance performance. 

UN Global Compact Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles White Paper (July 2013) tries to identify the essential components of sustainable agriculture from a business perspective. 

Water as a Catalyst for Peace: Transboundary Water Management and Conflict Resolution, is a new book by Ahmed Abukhater, published by Routledge.

Declaration of Fortaleza is the output of the INBO World General Assembly in Fortaleza, Brazil, 12-16 August 2013.  For more info about the INBO General Assembly, click here.

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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River Prizes

The European River Prize has been awarded to the River Rhine for remarkable achievements in integrated river basin management following a 50 year legacy of river degradation. The International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) has dramatically improved water quality and restored floodplains in the densely populated Rhine delta.  See details here.

The Thies International River Prize was awarded to the Mara River in Kenya. "With a clear vision...the community based Mara River Water Users Association overcame significant challenges and successfully collaborated with farmers, community groups, NGOs, consultants and others to bring the river back to life.  See the media release for details. 


Social Water: an interdisciplinary postgraduate workshop, University of York (UK), 25 October 2013

10th World Wilderness Congress, 4-10 October, Salamanca, Spain, is the the longest-running, international public conservation project and environmental forum in the world. 

Indigenous World Form on Water and Peace is a coalition of Indigenous leaders, Indigenous organizations, academics and others who wish to protect water for future generations.  Proposed for September 2014 with the venue to be determined. 

Featured Project

Wild Water Program of the Wild Foundation seeks to restore marine as well as freshwater wild places.  See the detailed program description here.

Movies / Videos

The Whale tells the story of Luna, a young wild killer whale, who challenged the established order of things when he tried to make friends with people (from Bullfrog Films).

Faces of Water, an art project by Moses Hacmon uses a special photographic technique to capture the hidden life of this element, portraying its pure form in motion.

Theatre of the Absurd: Is there a Happy Ending to the Tragedy (of the Commons)?  (92 min.) This educational play was created by UNESCO-IHP and UN-Water to depict the world's surreal, and as yet, unsolved dilemmas surrounding water security, water governance and water cooperation.

Water for Peace or Conflict?   Video proceedings of the Sept. 10, 2013 Summit on Water Security and Conflict Prevention at the U.S. Institute for Peace, Washington, DC.


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Last Updated September 2013

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