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
   November  2012

Implementing the Right to Water

KEEP YOUR PROMISES! is a global campaign by Freshwater Action Network, calling on decision makers to stick to the commitments they have made to end the sanitation and water crisis. "Decision makers have made promises locally, nationally, regionally and globally to get safe drinking water and sanitation to the world’s poorest countries and communities – but words are not enough!"  Click to download the Keep Your Promises Toolkit (500KB) is the online platform for monitoring government policy commitments and budgets for water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). "To ensure accountability, it is crucial to track whether governments are keeping to political commitments made at events like SACOSAN and AfricaSan. makes this easy to do, in real time, and in a collaborative way. Anyone can add analysis, leave comments, and more.  Click to download the Guide to WASHwatch (600KB).

Three Tools for Water Sustainability
1. ANALYSIS - Sustainable Development Analytical Grid is available from Mr. Claude Villeneuve, from the University of Québec in Chicoutimi. The grid (in Exel), along with a user guide, helps stakeholders to analize the strenghts and weaknesses of a current project, or one being designed, in relation with the application of sustainable development principles.  Both are available in both French and English.
2. GOVERNANCE - A new initiative, BRIDGE (Building River Dialogue and Governance) has been launched by IUCN  to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus-building, in 9 transboundary river basins in South America (Zarumilla and Catamayo-Chira rivers and Lake Titicaca basin), Mesoamerica (Coatan, Goascoran, and Sizaola rivers) and the Mekong region (Sekong, Sre Pok, and Sesan rivers). 
veryone is concerned about over-pumping of groundwater and a new groundwater management system in Qinxu, China is a promising solution. Farmers are allocated quotas of how much water they can pump, and their use is registered on a swipe card they can use to access any well in the village.  All wells are monitored by a county-level information system. The system updates the usage data everytime a card is used. A higher tariff is charged for usage over above the quota limit, but people are allowed to trade unused units from their quota.  For details, see the Oct 22 post on TheWaterBlog or view the video of the Qinxu Groundwater Management System.  [Thanks to The Water Channel for this info]

Water Ethics in the Middle East

ACTIVISM:  The Ride for Water Justice is taking place in communities impacted by Israel's appropriations of water resources claimed by Palestinians. The Ride includes guided walks, Playback Theatre performances and community discussions about water apartheid and the broader struggle for freedom and justice in occupied Palestine. During Fridays in November, Palestinian and international activists, students, journalists, artists and the wider public are invited to join any or all of the Ride for Water Justice events.  For updates, check the Facebook site or visit the Thirsting for Water Justice Campaign.

entitled "Enhancing the curricula of spiritually-based values and the awareness level for Sharia’ah students: A Jordanian experiencee" explored how Islamic water ethics were reflected in attitudes about water.  The study found that people lacked enough understanding of water issues to be able to apply their ethics very effectively.  The authors are R. Bolliger, Abdulkhaleq Q. Alwan, Asma’a al Waaji, and Hana Baddad.  Click to download the report (240KB)

Indigenous Water Ethics

WATER JOURNEY is a documentary about Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, a member of the Anishinabe (Ojibway) First Nation from Thunder Bay, Ontario, who walked around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River between 2003 and 2009, to raise awareness about water’s fragile existence. Grandmother Mandamin says it’s not her place to tell people how to protect the water.   Instead, she poses a question, “What are you going to do about it?”  Click to watch the 5-min trailer (from Urban Rez Productions, Canada) 

"Water Ethics and First Nations" is the Nov. 12 blogpost by Jeremy Schmidt, and discusses some important recent writings:  (1) "Water Ethics for First Nations and Biodiversity in Western Canada" an article by Kenichi Matsui and, "Where the waters divide: neoliberalism, white privilege, and environmental racism in Canada," a book by Michael Mascarenhas.

TO READ (or Watch)

Barefoot Guides:  are for people how want to work with social change in ways that are "creative, grounded, human and effective."  So far there are three guides dealing with organisational and social change, and more are planned.

Legal Outcomes from Rio+20, by Andra Syvanen (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, Montreal ( reports on what is effectively "ethical progress" in international agreements, worked out during the Rio+20 meetings.

A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources  a report by The European Commission, addresses lagging achievement towards the Water Framework Directive (WFD) target for reaching “good” ecological status in European waters by 2015.  The Blueprint also emphasizes that EU development policy will pay attention to water for economic growth and sustainable development.

Water Valuation: Building the Business Case, a report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) suggests how companies can better inform management actions and limit wasteful practices to "enhance revenues, reduce costs, manage risks or enhance reputation."  For questions, contact Violaine Berger (     
Bankrupting Nature:  Denying Our Planetary Boundaries, by Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockström, is an official report to the Club of Rome.  The book makes a strong plea for abandoning GDP growth as the key objective for development, and instead focus on a limited number of welfare indicators.

European Water Association Water Manifesto addresses "hot topics" eg, Climate Change and Water, Demographic Changes and Water Safety, Water Scarcity and Droughts, Flood Resilience, Emerging Pollutants, Water Cost Recovery and Incentive Pricing, etc.

Seeds of Freedom, a new 30min film by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network, highlights how the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, have impacted the enormous agro-biodiversity developed by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.

The honest truth about dishonesty (11 min. Youtube video).  Dan Ariely, an expert on human motivation and behavior discusses the process by which ethical (or unethical) decisions are made.

What's wrong with putting a price on nature?  Blogpost by Richard Conniff for Yale Environment 360, part of the Guardian Environment Network. His conclusion: "It may be, as some argue, that we have no better way to save the world. But the danger in the process is that we may lose our souls."

Report of Global Ethics Forum 2012, (1.3 MB) "Seeds for Successful Transformation; The Value of Values in Responsible Business"  Good overview of what ethical integrity means to business, with a few passing references to water. 

"Overarching Conclusions" (3.1MB) from World Water Week in Stockholm.  The word "ethics" does not appear in this report but it provides a useful overview of last August's meetings.

Canada without the Commons, a recent Op Ed by Jeremy Schmidt, discusses Canadian water policies through an ethics lens. 

Earth-honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key 
by Larry L. Rasmussen, "
insists that we must derive a spiritual and ecological ethic that accounts for the well-being of all creation."

Climate Change Ethics:  Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm, by Donald Brown, goes "beyond a mere account of relevant ethical questions to offer a pragmatic guide on how to make ethical principles influential in formulating the world’s response to climate change."

Seizing the Ecosystem Based Adaptation Opportunity: Buffering Climate Change Impacts Now and Beyond COP 18.  Blogpost by Ibrahim Thiaw, Director of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI), UNEP

Environmental Anthropology: Engaging Ecotopia includes a chapter on "Putting Permaculture Ethics to Work" by Katy Fox

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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Water Lilies, by Claude Monet, was sold for US $47.3m in a New York Auction last month.

Featured Center

The online UN Documentation Center on Water and Sanitation (UNDCWS) is a valuable 1-stop clearing house for the latest UN-affiliated water reports.  The centre has been developed by UNW-DPAC with the support of the Municipality of Zaragoza in Spain.  The website is also available in Spanish

Featured Videos

Water do water ethics look like?  The five finalist videos (between 2 and 6 min) from the Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition, organized by Water Citizen, will give you some ideas! 

Nature in Water Security. To be viable in the long run, any measures to achieve water security must include the conservation of upstream ecosystems such as forests. It is not only an environmental necessity but an economic one as well.  This video from Water Security conveyse this message very effectively in less than 7 minutes.

Upcoming Events

IWRM Karlsruhe 2012,  21-22 Nov 2012.  The theme is "Interactions of Water with Energy and Materials in Urban Areas and Agriculture" 

5th Delft Symposium on Water Sector Capacity Development, "
Developing Capacity from Rio to Reality: Who's Taking the Lead?" 29-31 May 2013.  The Water Ethics Network is organizing a session; contact DGroenfeldt [at] if you would like to participate in the session.
European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) 2013 biennial conference ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’ will be held in Munich, Germany from 20-24 August 2013. 

World Water Week in Stockholm, September 1-6, 2013, will have the theme "Water Cooperation - Building Partnerships".  Deadline for abstract and event proposals is January 7, 2013.  

11-13 Sept 2013:  The 5th River Restoration Conference will highlight what leading river restoration thinkers and practitioners have to offer in helping to bring new thinking into achieving goals of restoring and managing Europe’s Rivers.

Featured Podcasts

Water as an Asset Class.  In this episode of World Ocean Radio, host Peter Neill responds to suggestions (by economists) that water should be regarded as an "asset class."  He suggests the notion of the basic allocation of water as an essential human right may be the single most important debate of our time. (6 min.)

Unlocking the Profit in Water Savings. In this 10 min. podcast, Ethical Corp Director, Tony Webb interviews the author of the report of the same name, discussing which companies are doing the best job of water stewardship.  For more about the report, click here.


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Last Updated November 2012

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