Table of Contents

Water Accounting

Water Accounting

International Approaches to Policy and Decision-making

Edited by Jayne M. Godfrey and Keryn Chalmers

One of the most pressing global issues of the 21st century is the scarcity of water of a quantity appropriate to ensure economic, environmental and social sustainability. In addressing the issue through policy and management, of critical importance is access to high quality information. But water scarcity has many implications, and it is possible that different reporting approaches, generally called water accounting systems, can be appropriate to addressing them. In this groundbreaking book, international experts respond to the question: what role can water accounting play in resolving individual, organizational, industry, national and international economic, social and environmental issues? They explore how various forms of water accounting are utilized and the issues that they address.

Chapter 10: The Impossible Planetary Trust: Intergenerational Equity, Long-term Investment and Water Governance and Regulation

Gordon L. Clark and Claire Woods

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, economics and finance, international accounting, environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental management, water


Gordon L. Clark and Claire Woods INTRODUCTION The management of water over the long term involves the interests of current and future generations. As is the case with the management of any scarce natural resource, water management necessarily raises questions about intergenerational equity. Population growth and development put an increasing strain on water resources. If current rates of growth continue, global annual water use is expected to increase to 6.9 trillion cubic metres by 2030, an increase of 2 trillion cubic metres from global annual water use in 2010 (Gilbert 2010). This is 40 per cent more than the current water sources provide (ibid.). Climate change presents additional uncertainties to the availability of water across space and time over the next century (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007). The management of water for the future is, increasingly, an immediate concern. The purpose of this chapter is to conceptualize intergenerational equity in resource management, particularly water, as an important factor in long-term investment decisions. Invoking Brown Weiss’s (1984) seminal treatise on the virtues of an intergenerational perspective for the management of the environment, the chapter contemplates how her proposed planetary trust, an institutional solution to the problem of governing long-term commitment, can contribute to water resource management.1 The chapter offers a critique of the planetary trust concept, noting in particular its parallels with defined benefit (DB) pension funds. Similar to an obligation to manage the environment for future generations, a DB fund carries obligations to different generations, with time horizons as...

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