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Envisioning a sustainable future for water

Strang, V. (2021) 'Envisioning a sustainable future for water.', Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology-Aqua, 70 (4). pp. 404-419.


The water sector has a major leadership role to play in addressing the global water crisis. How can it make the radical shifts in approach that are needed? This paper highlights the reality that the management of water, and the ways in which water flows are directed, reflects social relations of power, not just between human groups, but also between humankind and the non-human world. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic research with indigenous communities and other water users in river catchments around the world, it considers alternate cultural worldviews that encourage more sustainable beliefs and practices, and asks how larger societies might make imaginative use of these in contemporary and future engagements with water. In a thought experiment intended to reposition human–non-human relations, it proposes a concept of ‘re-imagined communities’ advocating more collaborative forms of conviviality – living together – with other species. Opening the door to ideas about pan-species democracy, it calls for decision-making processes in which a wide range of expertise is brought together to exchange knowledge, with an explicit and practical remit to ‘speak for’ and promote the needs and interests of the non-human inhabitants of the ecosystems on which all living kinds depend.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), which permits copying, adaptation and redistribution, provided the original work is properly cited (
Date accepted:30 November 2020
Date deposited:21 January 2022
Date of first online publication:28 December 2020
Date first made open access:21 January 2022

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