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Strategies for Environmental and Resource Governance - Term Paper Example

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Water Rights and Global Wrongs: Strategies for Environmental and Resource Governance The scarcity of resources in the world has taken an urgent turn in light of the explosive combination of an expanding global population, climate change wreaking its disastrous effects and unsustainable consumption patterns…
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Download file to see previous pages But it also further enriches a powerful minority, mainly the already wealthy, and this poses a major barrier to change.” Without effective interventions, we are teetering precariously near the edge of a precipice. This paper looks at the case of water as a prime example of a finite resource whose depletion, if left unarrested, will create serious problems for the world.Fresh water is a basic human necessity. We need it for drinking, sanitation and personal hygiene, irrigation, hydroelectricity, for the natural resources it contains (such as fish), to preserve ecological balance, as part of our cultural mythology and for enjoyment (as part of the scenery).Flowing river water is a common resource which confers user rights but no private ownership rights. Groundwater, on the other hand, is subject to private ownership and therefore vulnerable to excess exploitation. This also makes ground water harvesting practices more scattered and difficult to implement and monitor. As more and more parts of the world face increasing water shortages and water commoditization, the issue of water scarcity – how it is perceived, problematized and the consequences in the form of policy responses – becomes crucial. ...
First and foremost, it is essential to study the concept of scarcity – its underlying assumptions and how these translate in policy terms. Scarcity is a central concept in economic theory, particularly neoclassical economic theory, which in turn has strongly influenced policy thought. This focus on scarcity as deriving from economic thought, has important implications for policy planners. Firstly, scarcity is a given in economics. Thus, policy makers need not necessarily try and understand the nature of the scarcity – whether it is absolute or relative, constructed or real (Mehta 2003 and 2006) They can simply accept it as a natural and inevitable condition, evaluating only the degree of scarcity and building responses accordingly. Secondly, under conditions of scarcity, the market is considered to be the most efficient allocator of resources. In many developing countries, the market is replaced by the state, but scarcity is still considered to be addressable external to the situation either by the market (by privatising water for example) or by the state (through prioritising of needs and resources connected to water). Segerfeldt proposes that the problem is not the shortage of water, but the absence of or deficiency in effective policies. He states: Worldwide, 1.1 billion people, mainly in poor countries, do not have access to clean, safe water. The shortage of water helps to perpetuate poverty, disease and early death. However, there is no shortage of water, at least not globally. We use a mere 8 per cent of the water available for human consumption. Instead, bad policies are the main problem. Even Cherrapunji, India, the wettest place on earth, suffers from recurrent water shortages. In looking at the roots of the problem ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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