Posted: 15 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 10, 2017
Climate change, as the dominant paradigm in natural resource policy, is obsolete and should be replaced by the water security paradigm. The climate change paradigm is obsolete because it fails to resonate with the concerns of the general public and fails to integrate fundamental sustainability challenges related to economic development and population growth. The water security paradigm directly addresses the main reasons climate change ultimately matters to most people – droughts, floods, plagues, and wars. Additionally, this new proposed paradigm better integrates climate change concerns with the most pressing global sustainability challenge – economic development and population growth will require 50% more food, water, and energy by 2030, regardless of climate change. The water security paradigm orients all natural resource policies toward achieving a sustainable quantity and quality of water at acceptable costs and risks. Water security improves upon the climate change paradigm in several ways, including (1) replacing carbon footprints with water footprints as the metric for sustainability monitoring and reporting; (2) restructuring natural resource governance at the watershed level with regional, rather than hierarchical, leadership; (3) integrating security and public health concerns into natural resource polices; (4) encouraging investment in infrastructure for drought and flood resilience, and (5) facilitating the sustainable implementation of human rights.
Keywords: water law, climate change, natural resources, environmental law, human rights
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