Conclusions: Struggles for justice in a changing water world

Tom Perreault, Rutgerd Boelens, Jeroen Vos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

5 Scopus citations


Conceptualizing Justice Frameworks This book has examined the multi-faceted problematic of water justice. As the preceding chapters have demonstrated, struggles over water are as pervasive as they are diverse. Not surprisingly, calls for water justice similarly take a variety of forms, from struggles over access to drinking water and sanitation (Chapters 5, 12); to the dynamics of water-grabbing and virtual water trade (Chapters 3, 15); (re)configuring hydrosocial territories (Chapters 6, 8); dam building and dispossession (Chapter 9); sanitation and water pollution (Chapters 11, 17); contested water knowledges (Chapters 4, 10, 18); and competing visions of conservation and environmental governance (Chapters 7, 16). As this brief (and far from exhaustive) list indicates, water injustices and their attendant struggles abound. While focused primarily on examining the various forms that such struggles can take, the book has also endeavored to advance thinking about the very nature of such struggles, and to formulate a positive vision of water justice itself (see, particularly, Chapters 1, 2, 13, 14). In this final chapter, we return to the themes that began this book, by considering the nature of water justice in the twenty-first century. Our conceptualizations of water justice are rooted in a plural vision of social justice. There is no single, unitary water justice principle, any more than there is a single, unitary water-injustice experience. The environmental justice field and its connection to the transdisciplinary domain of political ecology (e.g. Forsyth, 2003; Neumann, 2005; Perreault et al. 2015; Robbins, 2004; Schlosberg, 2004, 2007) provide inspiration as well as a conceptual foundation for our understanding of water justice. An important current has its roots in the environmental struggles of communities of color in the United States, starting in the 1980s. In addition, and independent from the US water justice struggle, environmental protests over water pollution and dam-building have emerged in many other places around the world throughout the past century. Some of the water-related protests that became known worldwide include Japan’s protest against the Ashino copper mine in 1907 (Martínez-Alier, 2003); or more recently, India’s protests from 1993 onwards in reaction to plans to build the Narmada dam (Dwivedi, 1999); protests against mining in Papua New Guinea, Peru and Ecuador in the 1990s (Martínez-Alier, 2003); and protests against privatizing the drinking water utility in Cochabamba (1999 and 2000) (Assies, 2003).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Justice
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781316831847
ISBN (Print)9781107179080
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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