IWA Publishing

Religious approaches to water management and environmental conservation

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The goal of this paper is to identify points of convergence between the great religious traditions in addressing human–nature relations, as well as presenting a critical evaluation of whether these approaches have in fact affected environmental conservation in representative countries. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism have been considered. The main traditions considered are: (1) dominion: humans at the top of Creation and using natural resources as needed; (2) stewardship: humans having a delegate dominion over Creation and being responsible and accountable for their use of natural resources; (3) empathy: nature is affected by human misbehaviour; (4) analogy: nature is an image of God; (5) God worshipper: nature gives glory to God; (6) cosmic humility: nature is beyond human comprehension; (7) natural mysticism: union with God is accomplished through contemplation of the created world; (8) worship: nature is sacred. These approaches are not necessarily conflicting but rather they can be considered in some cases as being complementary. Their actual impact on water and environmental conservation should be further researched.

Keywords: Environmental conservation, Ethics, Moral, Religion, Water management

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