Water Justice as Socioenvironmental Justice

Publication Date: 
28 June 2022
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
Ethics, Policy and Enviroment

Humanity will face water scarcity as this century progresses. Water use grew twice as fast as the global human population last century, and an increasing number of regions around the world are facing, or will face, freshwater scarcity. Four billion people face water scarcity at least one month out of the year. Scarcity makes water valuable for privatizers and commodifiers as an investment vehicle; it emboldens the currency of commodification. I will argue for water justice as socio-environmental justice. The injustices that can and do attach to water are not reducible to merely distributional wrongs or injustices, they are moral and political harms as markers of a failing democracy; water injustice, then, is structural harm. I build on the literature of power dynamics from Iris Marion Young and David Schlosberg and argue that water injustice is structural and involves mis- and mal-recognition and participation; moreover, I introduce the argument that water justice is participatory, a method of development that walks in lockstep with reflexive and discursive democracy.

Water justice, water ethics, structural injustice, commodification and democracy