The 93rd RIHN seminar
By viewing choices about water use as expressions of values (ethics) the concept of "water scarcity" is seen as a cultural construct which can be addressed indirectly through the value assumptions that created that construct in the first place. Of course water scarcity has very real physical impacts (e.g., lack of water), but the root cause of the scarcity lies in culturally-influenced behaviors. A values approach addresses "why" we manage water in certain ways, whether rivers, irrigation systems, urban water supply systems, or industrial plants. River management in particular has undergone a paradigm shift from an almost religious zeal to build dams and straighten river channels, to a more peaceful co-existence with rivers.
Effective water governance presumes a shared understanding of what water is. For example, is a river considered to be an economic factor of production, or is it a sacred deity? The water ethics of Indigenous Peoples normally support the latter view. When the dominant society consults with Indigenous Peoples about water development plans, the relationship is problematic because of these very different value systems. We find a similar disconnect between water ethics even within the dominant society, between conventional economic thinking and eco-sustainability thinking.
Water ethics can help society forge a new sustainable relationship not only with rivers, but with all of nature. The concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM) provides a useful framework to which specific ethical principles, such as rights of nature, cultural sovereignty, and equitable access to water, can be added. Through promoting a water ethic which respects ecological functions and at the same time supports sustainable economic development, the water sector can help show the way to "Future Earth". The key step is to embrace ethics as a ubiquitous and necessary dimension of water policies, and of environmental policies generally. We have a common interest to find consensus on the ethical principles that can guide us towards a sustainable future.
Curriculum Vitae (Summary):
Dr. David Groenfeldt is applied anthropologist with twenty-nine years’ experience in rural development and water policy work, including research, project analysis and evaluation, training and capacity-building, program management, and networking and outreach. Topical areas of expertise include water and agricultural policy, watershed and basin management, water dimensions of climate adaptation, social assessment and participation, Indigenous Peoples′ cultural rights, protected area and buffer zone planning and management; environmental assessment; and institutional analysis. His long-term assignments have included a research institute (IWMI, 5 years), a development agency (the World Bank, 7 years), an environmental NGO (WWF, 1 year), a consulting firm (ARD, 3 years), a place-based NGO (Santa Fe Watershed Association, 4 years), and most recently a water policy institute (Water-Culture Institute, 2 years and counting). In between and overlapping, he has consulted on water issues for various multi–lateral (World Bank, ADB, IFAD, FAO), and bilateral agencies (JICA, USAID, GTZ, DSE). Since 2008 he has also held the position of adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.
KURATA Takashi (Associate Professor, RIHN)
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
457-4 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita-ku,
Kyoto, 603-8047, Japan
Phone : +81-75-707-2382
Fax : +81-75-707-2513