Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?

Now available online: Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?

A product of the UNESCO-IHP (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – International Hydrological Programme) project on Water and Cultural Diversity, this book represents an effort to examine the complex role water plays as a force in sustaining, maintaining, and threatening the viability of culturally diverse peoples.

It is argued that water is a fundamental human need, a human right, and a core sustaining element in biodiversity and cultural diversity. The core concepts utilized in this book draw upon a larger trend in sustainability science, a recognition of the synergism and analytical potential in utilizing a coupled biological and social system analysis, as the functioning viability of nature is both sustained and threatened by humans. The book offers an array of ideas, concepts, and tools to understand and manage the sociocultural implications of the growing water crisis, and to suggest alternative pathways to sustainability.

The book consists of five parts. Part I explores water’s fundamental place in life, flowing through all organic processes, shaping all of the earth’s environments, and coursing through humanity’s traditions, values, meanings, politics, economics, art and engineering – i.e., culture in its broadest sense. Part II considers the “culture of water” through an explicit focus on traditional ecological knowledge and water resource management: approaches that have historically served to sustain the lifeways of indigenous groups and ethnic minorities. Part III examines current patterns of water resource management in various ecoregions and geopolitical contexts. Part IV considers the changing and possible future dynamics of intersections between water, biodiversity, and cultural diversity, with a critical focus on the lessons learned from the past several decades of hydro-development. Part V sketches out alternative scenarios for the future, arguing that a sustainable approach to water resource development must, first and foremost, be one that sustains the cultural and biological diversity of life.

This 560 page-book was published jointly by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in Jakarta and Springer SBM in December 2011, and the full book is now available online.

Editors : Barbara Rose Johnston (Editor-in-Chief), Lisa Hiwasaki, Irene J. Klaver, Ameyali Ramos Castillo and Veronica Strang

Section editors: Irene J. Klaver, Marcus Barber, Ameyali Ramos Castillo, Daniel Niles, Barbara Rose Johnston and Lisa Hiwasaki