Water Ethics Working Group


To explore, define, and establish the field of water ethics as a body of theory, a research agenda, and methods and strategies for implementation.


The working group will look at how water ethics can improve governance of water systems, at what levels (for example: local government, watershed, river basin, national, trans-boundary, sectoral) and through what institutions water ethics can best be applied.


  • Dr David Groenfeldt – Water-Culture Institute; Adjunct faculty, University of New Mexico, USA
  • Mr Anthony Akpan – Pan African Vision for the Environment, PAVE, Lagos, Nigeria
  • Dr Michael Campana – Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr Neelke Doorn – Department of Philosophy, Technical University-Delft, Netherlands
  • Dr Sue Jackson – Griffith University; Australian Rivers Institute, Australia
  • Mr K.J. Joy – Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India; and Fellow, SOPPECOM, Pune, India
  • Dr Jie Liu – Center for Water Research, Peking University, China
  • Dr Kenichi Matsui – Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan
  • Dr Curt Meine – Center for Humans and Nature, Chicago; and Aldo Leopold Foundation, Baraboo, Wisconsin
  • Dr Simon Meisch – International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities, University of Tubingen, Germany
  • Dr Luzma Nava – Guest Research Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna, Austria
  • Dr Marie-Hélène Parizeau – Faculty of Philosophy, Laval University, Quebec; President of COMEST/UNESCO
  • Ms Lucy Rodina – Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia
  • Dr Darlene Sanderson – Thompson Rivers University, School of Nursing, British Columbia, Canada
  • Dr Jeremy Schmidt – Carleton University, Faculty of Geography and Environmental Studies, Canada
  • Dr Glenn Schrader – University of Arizona, Dept. of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, USA
  • Dr Susan Smith – Willamette University, Faculty of Law, Oregon, USA
  • Dr Rafael Ziegler – Greifswald University, Department of Environmental Ethics, Germany
  • Dr Xiao Yun Zheng – Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, China
  • Dr Aaron Wolf – College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, USA


The ethics of water use includes both descriptive analysis to render tacit values explicit, as well as normative analysis prescribing what the ethical norms should be.    Ethics can also drive innovation and creative solutions by establishing design parameters. For example, maintaining nature’s share of river flows is critical for long term water quality and security, but water is also needed for irrigation. But rather than seeing it as a trade-off, ethical considerations can highlight the importance of both irrigation and environmental flows, motivating a search for solutions that can meet both needs. Ethics does not solve the problem but clarifies priorities when looking for solutions.  

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