Reflections on the nexus of politics, ethics, religion and contemporary water resources decisions

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The ways we discuss water policy decisions often closely mirror broader social and ethical decisions, for example: water as a common good; water and human dignity; water as a facilitator of well being; rights and responsibilities of access to water; justice and water. Water is a symbol of reconciliation, healing and regeneration which appears in virtually all of our known organized faith-based religions. Water decisions truly seem to be at the nexus of ethics, public policies, nature, values, beliefs and rationality. This paper opens windows into this nexus by starting with selected water policy arenas (arenas not generally thought to contain dimensions of ethics and faith) and generalizing about the dilemmas presented by decisions in them. These arenas are: dealing with risk/uncertainty in water and climate change decisions; changing terms of discourse on world water, especially between rich and poor; concepts of nature in water decision making; dealing with water and conflict; and processes of governance and water decisions. The paper concludes with suggestions of how ethics and faith might connect in decisions concerning water.

Keywords: Beliefs, Decision making, Ethics, Nature, Risk, Values, Water policies

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