Water justice is often sought in “good water governance.” Yet, what “good governance” means is not something that can be straightforwardly decided or linearly implemented: different stakeholders hold different power positions, have conflicting interests and deploy different valuation languages regarding water, land and livelihoods. Deliberative policy-making processes, including local communities’ participation in decision-making, are often presented as the tool to help craft inclusive, democratic water governance arrangements. However, here, a fundamental but commonly neglected or actively suppressed question is, “who participates in whose project”? Although water governance is about institutional configurations, regulations and policy-making and implementation, it is also about capabilities, powers and social struggle over access to resources, setting the agenda and discursively framing problems. Water justice, then, is not something that can easily be crafted through tinkering with governance arrangements, but requires struggles and continuous renegotiation as part of larger battles for justice and democracy. Water injustices often imply exclusion of vulnerable groups from access to clean water and affordable services, but also from representation in water-control decision-making. This exclusion can be based on gender, race, caste, class, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation. Maria Rusca, Cecilia Alda-Vidal, and Michelle Kooy (Chapter 11) provide clear examples of this in their chapter on drinking water in Kampala. Joyeeta Gupta (Chapter 14) contends that privatizing irrigation water services may often exclude smallholders. Climate Justice Climate change also causes major distributive injustices. Droughts and floods tend to affect the poor more severely than the relatively rich (Adger, 2001; Ikeme, 2003; IPCC 2014; Ribot, 2010; Schneider and Lane, 2006). Skewed vulnerabilities in relation to effects of climate change lead to asymmetrical impacts (Gardiner and Hartzell-Nichols, 2012). This is even more unfair and imbalanced considering that the poor’s share in emission of greenhouse gases is much less than the gigantic emissions by the rich. A report commissioned by the World Bank (2008) estimates the impacted populations killed or left homeless per region by seven common chronic and sudden disasters that are increasingly related to climate change: droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, landslides, tidal surges and wind storms. Already millions of people are affected by floods in Southern and Eastern Asia and droughts in South America, South Asia and East Africa. Likewise, health effects of climate change affect the poor disproportionally (Costello et al., 2009).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)