Category Archives: News

Seeking Water Justice: Hearing the Voice of the Sacred Salmon

The Water Ethics Working Group is co-organizing a workshop on water and ecocentrism at Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) on June 16-17, 2017. The workshop is primarily organized by Dr. Susan Smith, also a member of the Water Ethics Working Group. The workshop comprises a public series of talks on Friday afternoon, June 16, and then a Working Group meeting on Sat. morning.

Seeking Water Justice: Hearing the Voice of the Sacred Salmon
Afternoon and Evening, June 16, 2017, with additional activities, June 17-18.

Please join us Friday afternoon, June 16, 2017 at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon to participate in a conversation about water and eco-centrism. This afternoon workshop will feature discussions among water resources activists, professionals and scholars, along with experts in conflict management, ethics, and theology, broadly exploring the theme of water and eco-centrism. The workshop is sponsored by Willamette’s Sustainable Environment, Energy, and Resources law program and the Water Ethics Working Group, Sustainable Water Future, Global Future.

The first session focuses on Native American and First Nations spiritual perspectives — particularly with respect to human responsibilities towards water, salmon and other species — and the power of those perspectives to radically alter traditional water resource management. Our discussion will be sparked by three brief presentations highlighting contributions of indigenous peoples to resolving water and fisheries conflicts in the Klamath Basin, the Columbia River, and the broader Pacific Northwest area.

The second session will dive deep — exploring whether and how our deep values, spirituality, and faith should reshape the way we interact with water and the lives that depend upon it, and how we might harness that transformative potential. Participants are invited to share knowledge about the values various faith communities and cultures place on water and non-human life, along with the implications of those values for governing water with a truly eco-centric perspective.

A reception and light dinner will give us an informal opportunity to continue our conversation.
On Saturday morning, we will have a working meeting of the interested participants. The water ethics working group of the Sustainable Water Future program will be gathering to identify its research directions and publications, particularly those suggested by Friday afternoon’s conversation. The working group will be considering a proposed publication on transforming water resources management towards an eco-centric perspective, tentatively titled “Transforming Water.” Participants interested in contributing articles or chapters to this or other publications are cordially invited to attend.

The workshop is limited to 32 participants. Contact Professor Susan Smith immediately if you are interested in participating, or +1 (503)586-8619. No fee will be charged to invited participants and participants will be covering their own expenses to attend.

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.

Ethics at the World Water Forum

The 7th World Water Forum, April 12-17 in the cities of Daegu and Gyeongju, South Korea, will feature the topic of Water Ethics in two sessions organized by Water-Culture Institute and UNESCO-IHP: Mainstreaming a New Water Ethic (Thematic Session 4.4.5 in Daegu) and Developing a Global Water Ethics Charter (Session C.A01.S.EC.15 in Gyeongju).  In addition, the Water Ethics Network will have a booth in the Citizens Forum exhibit area in Gyeongju.  Please stop by to visit!