This panel discussion will explore the “nature” and status of water in relation to the concepts of water security and water governance. Practitioners and scholars in the fields of Geography, Law, Political Philosophy and Theology will address relevant aspects of development discourse, environmental ethics and the theory of justice.
- Alice Evatt (DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford) will provide conceptual background about the possibility that water can have rights.
- Prof. David Bradley (Ross Professor of Tropical Hygiene, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London; Department of Zoology, University of Oxford) has extensive experience as a physician, communicable disease epidemiologist and zoologist in East Africa, Asia as well as the UK, which has informed his advisory roles on public health and research policy. His contribution to the panel will focus on water as an entity in relation to water security and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Dr Kevin Grecksch (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford) will give a socio-legal perspective on whether water should have rights. He will argue that our relationship with water is primarily one of rights and regulations. For millennia, humans have created rights and regulations around water, either to protect it and/or to use it. Yet, by doing so we treat water merely as a property. However, recent cases in New Zealand, India and Australia have seen granting rights of personhood to rivers, i.e. rivers can act as a person in court. This could potentially hold wide-ranging consequences for how we manage water resources and how we value water in general.
- Stevan Veljkovic (DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford) will ask "Why rights?" and argue the following: Human rights trump – liberal order rests upon them, and no alternatives exist within the pale of Western sensibilities. Historical contingency is to thank for this consensus, although it is thought to be something natural and its arising to have been foregone. The very idea of recognizing water’s rights suggests the historical trajectory on which the order consensus lies – and its tensions.
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