Challenges, Key Issues and Perspectives
7. 1. Water resources WATER GOVERNANCE AND GLOBALISATION There are two sets of arguments which are increasingly common in water resource management. The first set considers water as a public good and one that is intimately related to human rights entitlements. The second views water as an economic good and can be tracked down to the Dublin Conference (1992).1 This second set revolves round the idea that if water is treated as an economic good, problems related to scarcity, quality and availability will be solved. This chapter considers both these arguments, looking at the international, regional and national legal policies and practices relating to water. At the local level, large infrastructure projects and water service concessions are granted by governments. Water users often have no participation in the decision-making processes relating to water – decisions which often affect their water rights and undermine their livelihoods by displacing them or by restricting their water use. Multinational companies as holders of water services contracts in many developing (and developed) countries control the management of water resources. In addition, multinational banks may prescribe policies promoting full cost recovery of water investments. Water privatisation in Asia, Latin America and African countries gave rise to concerns regarding the availability of water to the poor community, quality and quantity of water resources and accountability of multinational companies.2 The free trade promoted by the WTO and the liberalisation of foreign direct investment have led, in many cases, to environmental deregulation, causing water pollution and depletion of water...
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