Water Politics : Governance, Justice and the Right to Water book cover
1st Edition

Water Politics
Governance, Justice and the Right to Water

ISBN 9781138320031
Published September 18, 2019 by Routledge
238 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Scholarship on the right to water has proliferated in interesting and unexpected ways in recent years. This book broadens existing discussions on the right to water in order to shed critical light on the pathways, pitfalls, prospects, and constraints that exist in achieving global goals, as well as advancing debates around water governance and water justice.

The book shows how both discourses and struggles around the right to water have opened new perspectives, and possibilities in water governance, fostering new collective and moral claims for water justice, while effecting changes in laws and policies around the world. In light of the 2010 UN ratification on the human right to water and sanitation, shifts have taken place in policy, legal frameworks, local implementation, as well as in national dialogues. Chapters in the book illustrate the novel ways in which the right to water has been taken up in locations drawn globally, highlighting the material politics that are enabled and negotiated through this framework in order to address ongoing water insecurities. This book reflects the urgent need to take stock of debates in light of new concerns around post-neoliberal political developments, the challenges of the Anthropocene and climate change, the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the mobilizations around the right to water in the global North.

This book is essential reading for scholars and students of water governance, environmental policy, politics, geography, and law. It will be of great interest to policymakers and practitioners working in water governance, as well as the human right to water and sanitation.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Leo Heller

1. The Right to Water in a Global Context: Challenges and Transformations in Water Politics

Farhana Sultana and Alex Loftus

2. Valuing Water: Rights, Resilience, and the UN High-Level Panel on Water

Jeremy Schmidt

3. Making Space for Practical Authority: Policy Formalization and The Right to Water in Mexico

Katie Meehan

4. Turning to Traditions: Three Cultural-Religious Articulations of Fresh Waters’ Value(s) in Contemporary Governance Frameworks

Christiana Zenner

5. The Right to Bring Waters into Being

Jamie Linton

6. The Rights to Water and Food: Exploring the Synergies

Lyla Mehta and Daniel Langmeier

7. Water-Security Capabilities and the Human Right to Water

Wendy Jepson, Amber Wutich and Leila M. Harris

8. Rights on the Edge of the City: Realizing of the Right to Water in Informal Settlements in Bolivia

Anna Walnycki

9. Human Right to Water and Bottled Water Consumption: Governing at the Intersection of Water Justice, Rights and Ethics

Raul Pacheco-Vega

10. Against the Trend: Structure and Agency in the Struggle for Public Water in Europe

Andreas Bieler

11. Remunicipalization and the Human Right to Water: A Signifier Half Full?

David A. McDonald

12. Citizen Mobilization for Water: The Case of Thessaloniki, Greece

Jerry van den Berge, Rutgerd Boelens and Jeroen Vos

13. Race, Austerity and Water in the United States: Fighting for the Human Right to Water in Detroit and Flint, Michigan

Cristy Clark

14. Class, Race, Space and the ‘Right to Sanitation’: The Limits of Neoliberal Toilet Technologies in Durban, South Africa

Patrick Bond



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Farhana Sultana is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA.

Alex Loftus is Reader in the Department of Geography at King’s College London, UK.


"The right to water remains elusive for a great number of people around the world. Despite decades of efforts by activists, policy-makers, and committed scholars, access to water remains deeply contested and unevenly distributed. This superb collection teases out why this is the case and, more importantly, presents a range of actions and principles, mobilised by a great variety of communities, that open possible pathways for a more just, democratic and egalitarian distribution of a key resource for securing livelihood. This is a must read for all those who still believe that a more humane, sustainable, and egalitarian access to the earth’s waters is not only desirable, but necessary.” - Professor Erik Swyngedouw, The University of Manchester, UK and Honorary Doctor of Roskilde University, Denmark and University of Malmö, Sweden
"The world faces a growing water crisis. This is not just about water availability, but about distribution: who gets what and how water is used. Sultana and Loftus' book is groundbreaking. It provides a narrative of and pathways to water justice. It is a must read for anyone who cares water and our common future." - Professor R. Quentin Grafton, The Australian National University and the UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance
“This collection of essays provides much-needed intellectual inspiration for re-imagining water. Its clear message is that realizing the right to water involves re-organizing and re-thinking ways of relating to water, but also requires engaging with the wider transformations needed to make this world more sustainable and just.” - Professor Margreet Zwarteveen, Professor of Water Governance, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands