WEAll News

New Paper: Water in a Wellbeing Economy

Tags: Briefing Paper, Hugh Coppell, Rohit Rao, water, WEAll Briefings
Published on July 27, 2021

By Rohit Rao and Hugh Coppell

There is nothing on this planet more crucial to life than water. It is a fundamental human need necessary for our biological survival. It exists in the bodies of all people, animals, and plants and is a crucial element of almost all the products and services that we rely upon today. If managed sustainably, it also allows us to create thriving economies that generate social and ecological wellbeing for everyone.

Therefore, a Wellbeing Economy must ensure that people have safe and secure water access, and that sustainable water flows are created and maintained.

However, we currently face challenges that we must overcome in order to make this happen. The emphasis on short-term economic and monetary gain over long-term ecological and social wellbeing mean that is difficult to truly define and evaluate the value of water in terms of the holistic benefits it provides. This is compounded by environmental factors such as erratic rainfall patterns brought about by climate change and anthropogenic pollution, poorly designed transnational water legislation and urban water infrastructure, and a narrative that pushes expensive technology at the expense of nature-based solutions.

In our newly launched briefing paper, Water in a Wellbeing Economy, we propose some solutions to these challenges. Using case studies and examples from around the world, we show that, bit by bit, a Wellbeing Economy for water is both desirable and achievable.

The paper builds on the six Principles of Water Ethics set out by Jennings, Heltne, and Kintzele. These are:

  1. Respect for human dignity by providing all people with water, the essence of our basic needs
  2. Equity and proportionality in distribution
  3. Solidarity between various stakeholders
  4. Common good – with rules for governance and management 
  5. Responsible stewardship
  6. Inclusive and deliberative participation of entities 

It focuses on solutions that exist in the areas of good governance; ecosystem services accounting; health and sanitation; agriculture; industry; cities; and individual action.

These areas do not encompass an exhaustive list of solutions. Rather, they provide a starting point as more solutions and areas of focus are emerging every day. We have merely provided a taster of what exists and seek to create the space to facilitate a larger conversation between the general public, policy makers, and researchers towards building a Wellbeing Economy for water.

To find out more about practical steps that are being taken in these areas, and places were bold policies are already making an impact, read the full paper.

If you’re curious to hear firsthand from us, as well as share how your organisation is contributing towards a Wellbeing Economy for water, attend our upcoming event on August 10.

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