White House Water Summit Recognizes Role of Water Ethics

WASHINGTON, DC – March 22, 2016
The Water-Culture Institute, a Santa Fe think-tank, along with University of Arizona and the Southwest Water Technology Cluster, will develop an “Ethics-Based Decision Support Tool” (EBDST) for guiding technology, policy, and investment decisions in the water sector. The initiative is one of nearly 200 “Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future”, which were announced today at the White House Water Summit, on the occasion of World Water Day. Councilman Nelson Cordova (Taos Pueblo) gave the opening invocation, noting that for his community, every day is a “water day”. The full list of commitments announced by the White House is available HERE

“Incorporating ethics principles into a formal decision tool is common in the business world, but has not yet been applied to water policy,” explained Dr. David Groenfeldt, director of Water-Culture Institute. “We’re all familiar with the sentiment of ‘doing the right thing’; the EBDST provides a systematic way to identify what the right thing is, in a particular context.” The EBDST is intended for cities, watershed, and river basins, but could be applied at any level. Through a process of interviews and facilitated workshops, water stakeholders are guided through a process to document their priority values about local water and water ecosystems. The EBDST orders these values into a systematic framework, which can then be incorporated into existing local water governance arrangements.

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After the Paris Agreement: Water yes, but what about ethics?

Water earned a seat at the climate table in Paris last month with creative initiatives such as SIWI’s Climate Is Water campaign, but what ethics will guide the water agenda?  That’s still an open (and un-asked) question, but let’s start with the good news:

  • The Paris Pact, committing to water governance at a basin level, was endorsed by more than 300 organizations and announced at a press conference featuringJean-Francois Donzier (INBO), and French Environment Minister, Ségolène Royal.
  • The Climate-Is-Water campaign was also featured in a press conference featuring Ben Braga (World Water Council) and Minister Ségolène Royal.
  • Business Alliance for Water and Climate Change was launched “to ensure sustainable management of water resources in the face of climate change”.

But there is more to do, as noted by Dawn McGregor (China Water Risk):  Paris Water Pact: Feeling Blue.  And ethics?  Linda Sheehan (Earth Law Center) took the stand at the Rights of Nature Tribunal on 5 Dec. to indict the working draft of the COP21 agreement for failing to comply with the United Nations’ own laws, and for ignoring the rights of nature and the world’s indigenous peoples.  See her testimony here.

January New Briefs

Water Stewardship “Gold”  The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) has awarded the world’s first “Gold level” of water stewardship to Inghams Enterprises, an integrated poultry producer operating in Australia and New Zealand.

Water Climate Bonds Standard, a new investment tool, is open for public consultation until 12 Feb.  The initiative is coordinated by Ceres, WRI, and CDP.  For background, see this Guide from the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation.

Water Cooperation Quotient is a new metric devised by the Strategic Foresight Group to measure progress in water diplomacy.

Featured Organizations (Winter 2016)

Imagine H2O inspires new solutions to key water problems, and offers a path to market for promising entrepreneurs and innovations, building on Silicon Valley technologies and ideas.

Freshwater Habitats Trust works to protect all freshwaters in the UK, including those that are small and undervalued like headwater streams, ponds, flushes and ditches…for everyone to enjoy.

Freshwater Watch recruits and organizes citizen scientists to monitor water quality anywhere in the world.  See this 3-min video about their approach.


Ethics, Water, Climate Change, and COP21

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 21, was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. This is the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Lucy Rodina, WEN social media manager and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, shares the relationship between climate change, water and people. Read the article, Ethics, Water, Climate Change, and COP21, on our blog.