Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Synergies and tensions between IWRM and the HRBA in the water sector


A paper titled «A Clash of Paradigms in the Water Sector? Tensions and Synergies Between Integrated Water Resources Management and the Human Rights-based Approach to Development» is now posted on the Social Science Research Network and is available here. The abstract is as follows:

Water resources management has been shaped by a variety of paradigms reflecting the evolution of government policies and transient societal values. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) became a predominant management framework in the 1990s. The Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to development has also emerged recently as an influential approach in the water sector. IWRM and the HRBA to development in the water sector overlap significantly. The interactions between the two approaches remain largely unexplored although their repercussions may be significant. Because they do not share identical premises and objectives, the concurrent implementation the two approaches might also lead to tensions detrimental to water resources management. The aim of this article is to explore the interactions between IWRM and the HRBA to development in the water sector. Questions raised by perceived conflicts are identified to help address potential tensions when the two approaches coexist. Synergies between IWRM and the HRBA are also detailed to establish how the two approaches are aligned.

The paper notably explores tensions between the following:

- The HRBA as an anthropocentric approach and the need for an ecosystemic contextualisation of claims on water resources;

- The HRBA as an vehicle for developmental aspirations and the acknowledgement of limits in water resources availability;

- The indistinct duties of right-holders in regards to the user-pays principle;

- Economic water management and the need to protect marginal groups and the poor;

- The evasiveness of the HRBA and the need for a stable and consistent framework for prospective water management.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Conference: Shale gas development and water protection in Canada


The Munk School of Global Affairs convenes a conference on water protection in the context of shale gas development.

The conference, titled «Fracture Lines: Will Canada's Water be Protected in the Rush to Develop Shale Gas?», will be held on 14 October 2010 at the University of Toronto. A draft programme is available here.

This is very interesting and timely given the current rush to develop shale gas in Canada. In particular, such developments raise concerns in Québec, where private interests and the government appear to have decided that shale gas exploitation is urgent and necessary. A recent opinion letter in Le Devoir (in French) identifies the social and environmental issues related to this subject in Québec.

Interestingly, a representative of the Québec ministry for Sustainable Development and the Environment will be among the plethora of industry representatives speaking at the Munk Conference.

UPDATE: As possible points of discussion for the conference panels on «statutory authority and regulatory preparedness» and «legal and liability issues», Byard Duncan reports on Alternet that gas companies drilling in Pennsylvania have committed nearly 1,500 environmental violations in just two years, while the Environmental Working Group reports that fracking companies might illegally inject diesel underground.