International Approaches to Policy and Decision-making
Edited by Jayne M. Godfrey and Keryn Chalmers
Chapter 10: The Impossible Planetary Trust: Intergenerational Equity, Long-term Investment and Water Governance and Regulation
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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