chapter  6
16 Pages

Scarce or insecure? The right to water and the ethics of global water governance

In 1977 a distinct shift occurred in global water governance. That year, at the UN Conference on Water in Mar del Plata, a stance was taken against the idea that water is abundant; a notion deemed too unscienti¼c, too irrational and too normatively imbued to provide a grounding proposition for managing water in industrial society (Biswas, 1978). In its place, and over the decades pursuant to the judgment of abundance, water scarcity and water security have emerged as the dominant propositions ordering the tasks of global water governance. As shown herein, this has substantively altered the context of governance by shifting it away from developing water for ‘industrial society’ and towards ordering water within the global economy. Further, these propositions contextualize, if they do not fully characterize, contemporary governance norms. As such, this chapter elucidates what the right to water must aim to accomplish if it is to present a viable and adequate response to the contemporary global water governance milieu.