The Water Ethics Network offers a forum for water professionals, business leaders, indigenous representatives, academics, civil servants, artists, philosophers, and everyone interested in water to reflect on the values and principles — the ethics — underlying the way we use water, share water, and care for water ecosystems.

When water policies are seen as reflecting a system of ethics, we can have a debate about the values we wish to uphold, rather than arguing about the water itself.  There is a certain magic that happens when conflicting stakeholders use the language of values.  They discover a shared concern for future generations and for the health of the rivers, lakes, aquifers, and wetlands that our descendants will also want to enjoy.  They will not necessarily agree on the specifics of what water policies to adopt, but they can often agree on the desired long-term outcomes and then try to work backwards towards agreement.

Bringing ethics into the discussion of water policy options holds conflicting parties accountable for the moral results of their choices.  It reminds us that not only do future decisions have ethical consequences, but that past decisions, and current policies, reflect ethical choices which were made too casually.  The water crisis of scarcity, contamination, and injustice has been brought about in spite of many good intentions that were poorly thought through.  Denial about “inconvenient truths” has been a hallmark of water development for a long time.  An ethics perspective can cut through the pretense that lax pollution standards or incomplete environmental assessments will not really hurt anyone.

The Water Ethics Network provides a forum where ethics can be explored, reported, and debated.  You are cordially invited to participate!  Click on the “Get Involved” page for links to our social media sites; subscribe to (and contribute news for) the monthly e-newsletter; send in suggestions for the Resources page, or write a guest post for the Blog.  Send your news, views, or questions to network@waterculture.org.

The Water Ethics Network is a project of the Water-Culture Institute  and is supported by a generous grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation.