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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Water as a Human Right: Commons or Commodity?

Sophia Schroth and Paul Trabhardt

English Deutsch

WP2PF Commons Infographicater shortages in individual water supply has not been a critical issue in Germany. However, the drought in the summer of 2018 made it a major topic of discussion (mainly in relation to water as an agricultural resource). This presents an opportunity for a social-philosophical discussion and a new discourse on which political measures are needed for securing our water supply.


In a philosophical dialogue, this podcast episode will contrast two positions: the advocacy of the status quo and the understanding of water as a commodity vs. the advocacy of the communization of water and understanding of water as a common good. In Germany, it is often a question of how water can be handled in a liberal democratic system. How do different perceptions of water affect political decisions about the use of water? What notion of ownership underlies such water management? Who actually owns water and who decides which social groups have access to it and how?


Using a wide variety of examples from different regions and countries, the dialogue addresses the complex interrelationships of the questions of commodification and commercialization of water. Other questions addressed by the discussion include the following: What role does the state play in organising the market for water? Which governance systems can contribute to the negotiation of (partial) privatisation or (re-)municipalisation? Are market mechanisms sufficient to fulfil a fundamental human right to water? What does "access to water" mean in practical, normative implementation? Should water be free or just affordable? Is private property contrary to the universalistic promise of this human right of water? Does water as a resource for individual consumption elude certain logics of sustainability, social justice and knowledge regimes? 




Konstantinos Voulgaris

Podcast 1 | Water as Human Right: Commons or Commodity? Part 1/2 

A philosophical dialogue about water security.





Konstantinos Voulgaris

Podcast 1 | Water as Human Right: Commons or Commodity? Part 2/2

The dialogue continues... Read More.