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.

A symposium on water ethics, hosted by University of Arizona on April 25, will develop the parameters for the Ethics Based Decision Support Tool. It will be piloted in Santa Fe, NM and three other locations in 2016 and 2017. Plans are to roll-out the EBDST nationwide from 2018. Founded in 2010, Water-Culture Institute promotes the sustainable management of rivers, lakes, springs, and groundwater through (1) applying indigenous wisdom and cultural traditions that respect the rights of nature, (2) studying ethics and value systems related to water management, and (3) encouraging broad-based stakeholder involvement in water decisions. The Institute’s premise is that  the sustainability of water ecosystems is both an economic and a moral responsibility. The Institute is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and works both locally and internationally. For more info: www.waterculture.org.

Find out more about the White House Water Summit HERE