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... In Australia, water colonialism limits what can be achieved by the settler government's system of water governance. Water colonialism is the system of assumptions/beliefs, processes and actions, based on colonial imperialism, that exclude First Peoples, their laws and responsibilities (Robison et al. 2017). The consequence of water colonialism is that water is distributed to predominantly benefit 'white water citizens,' an idealised water user who fits the colonial story and advances imperial objectives (Berry and Jackson 2018). ...
... Water colonialism (Robison et al. 2017) Techno-managerial view of water (Parsons and Fisher 2020). ...
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The ‘Living Waters, Law First’ water governance framework centres Living Waters, First Law and the health/well-being of people and Country. The framework is based on a groundwater policy position developed by the Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (WAC), the Nyikina and Mangala peoples’ native title corporation, in the West Kimberley, Western Australia in 2018. This article celebrates Traditional Owner’s pragmatic decolonising strategies. It explores the emerging conceptual challenges to the status quo by comparing the Living Waters, First Law framework to Australia’s settler state water governance framework, represented by the National Water Initiative. Bacchi’s ‘what is the problem represented to be’ approach is used to interrogate the underlying assumptions and logics (2009). We find that there are incommensurable differences with First Law and the Australian water reform agenda. Yet, our analysis also suggests ‘bridges’ in relation to sustainability, benefits and responsibilities could promote dialogues towards decolonial water futures.
... Projected long-term reduction in water availability in the southwest US and northern Mexico (e.g., from the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers) will have substantial ecological and economic impacts given the region's heavy water demands (high confidence) Paredes-Tavares et al., 2018;Martinez-Austria et al., 2019;Milly and Dunne, 2020;Williams et al., 2020). Increased water scarcity will intensify the need to address competing interests across state and national boundaries, including honouring commitments to Indigenous Peoples who have long struggled with inadequate access to their water entitlements and marginalisation in water resource planning (Mumme, 1999;Cozzetto et al., 2013b;Mumme, 2016;McNeeley, 2017;Radonic, 2017;Robison et al., 2018;Curley, 2019;Water and Tribes Initiative, 2020;Wilder et al., 2020). ...
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Since AR5, climate-change impacts have become more frequent, intense and have affected many millions of people from every region and sector across North America (Canada, USA and Mexico). Accelerating climate-change hazards pose significant risks to the well-being of North American populations and the natural, managed and human systems on which they depend (high confidence1). Addressing these risks has been made more urgent by delays due to misinformation about climate science that has sowed uncertainty and impeded recognition of risk (high confidence). {14.2, 14.3} Without limiting warming to 1.5°C, key risks to North America are expected to intensify rapidly by mid-century (high confidence). These risks will result in irreversible changes to ecosystems, mounting damages to infrastructure and housing, stress on economic sectors, disruption of livelihoods, and issues with mental and physical health, leisure and safety. Immediate, widespread and coordinated implementation of adaptation measures aimed at reducing risks and focused on equity have the greatest potential to maintain and improve the quality of life for North Americans, ensure sustainable livelihoods and protect the long-term biodiversity, and ecological and economic productivity, in North America (high confidence). Enhanced sharing of resources and tools for adaptation across economic, social, cultural and national entities enables more effective short- and long-term responses to climate change. {14.2, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6, 14.7}
... These characteristics of economic justice connect to themes of UNDRIP and the TRC Calls to Action. We view UNDRIP's commitment to economic self-determination as related to economic justice (Robison et al., 2018;United Nations, 2007). Although UNDRIP's mandate is not explicitly described as "economic justice," they are in substance similar. ...
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British Columbia’s Community Benefits Agreement that aims to provide jobs in the construction trades for underrepresented groups serves as a case to explore the successes and barriers to distributing the benefits of urban development to Indigenous groups towards the goal of economic justice. Through a content analysis of stakeholder interviews and documents about the agreement, we found that, while there is optimism that the CBA may help advance public discourse on economic justice for Indigenous Peoples, there are significant barriers that have gone unaddressed in this and other labor agreements due to a lack of community engagement. These include lack of transportation, continued marginalization of Indigenous workers into unskilled labor, and the reinforcement of dependence on non-Indigenous economies.
... The magnitude and extent of environmental watering is limited to those rivers and wetlands to which it is physically possible to deliver flows, by the volume available each year and the requirement to avoid flooding of private property. Water rights are central to self-determination and control of territory by Indigenous peoples (Robison et al. 2018;Hartwig et al. 2020). There are ~55 Traditional Owner groups in the Basin (Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2018), comprising 10.5% of the total population in the northern Basin and 3.4% in the south, and growing rapidly at a rate of ~3.8% year −1 (Hartwig et al. 2021). ...
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Context: water managers in the Murray–Darling Basin increasingly recognise the cultural and environmental benefits generated by Indigenous co-management of environmental water. However, traditional knowledge and values are subsidiary to western technical and scientific perceptions when prioritising environmental water use. Aims and methods: we mapped the locations and volumes of Commonwealth Environmental Water Office environmental watering events onto the wetlands within the land area represented by different state-determined Indigenous organisations and discuss how this relates to the varied nature and extent of Indigenous engagement in environmental watering decisions. Results: between 2014–15 and 2018–19, one organisation had nearly 13% of the area of wetlands watered, but the average was less than 3%. In all, 18 of the 26 organisations received no environmental water. Conclusions: the distribution of environmental flows does not meet the cultural needs of Indigenous nations due to physical restrictions and policy limitations. Yet, there are clear environmental and cultural co-benefits where Indigenous peoples have developed partnerships with environmental water managers. Developing stronger partnerships and increasing Indigenous water entitlements from the current 0.17% of issued entitlements would maximise these benefits in catchments where environmental water is prioritised. Implications: the reviews of the Water Act and the Basin Plan scheduled for 2024–26 present opportunities to implement reforms
... In Canada Indigenous people are often denied a voice in source water protection (SWP) (i.e., protection of drinking water sources from pollution; Ivey et al. 2006) and water resources planning (Irvine et al. 2020), which are critical elements of water governance and management. This exemplifies the concept of 'water colonialism', which refers to colonial legacies and discrimination within settler institutions that lead to the exclusion of Indigenous peoples from water governance (Robison et al. 2018). Government must place emphasis on and recognize that Indigenous people play a critical role in the creation of a sustainable water governance system (McGregor 2014). ...
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In many Indigenous communities, the wellbeing of waterways correlates to the health of the population that it supports. However, current laws and water governance systems often fail to protect water sources and jeopardizes health and wellbeing, particularly in Indigenous communities. This study, curated by an Anishinaabe First Nations community located in Ontario on the Lake of the Woods (LOTW), was designed to detail the varying impacts of adverse water quality on people in the community. A community-based participatory research approach included interviews with Elders and key informants to understand lived experiences of adverse water quality, sources of pollution, and individual and community impacts. Key findings revealed changes in water quality within and between years, with water quality degrading over time. Further, changes in water quality were associated with changes in the community’s health, food sources, and activities. Finally, a paternalistic colonial history between Indigenous people and the Government of Canada continues to resonate and cause strained jurisdictional relations between the two groups. Opportunities and future water stewardship strategies require the active participation and inclusion of Indigenous people in policymaking, programming, and water management. As proposed by the LOTW community, this includes improving water quality monitoring, upgrading septic systems in the community, reintroducing wild rice to the shorelines, and creating water activities programming for Indigenous youth.
... The plans also did not distinguish between different types of publics. Black, indigenous, and other communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the mismanagement of water in California (Cosens 2018;London et al. 2018). In the Central Valley, immigrant, primarily-Spanish speaking populations may require Spanish language outreach. ...
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Facing pressures to contend with continual changes in physical availability, to balance water supply with environmental and social impacts, and to build resilience to environmental hazards such as droughts and climate change, water managers increasingly use management plans as a blueprint for managing water. We apply qualitative content analysis to evaluate water management plans from diverse water and land use organizations in California’s Central Valley. To understand whether plans are working toward holistic, multi-dimensional management, we assess plans’ coverage of water supply, environmental, and socioeconomic dimensions of water use, as well as the quality and implementability of the plans. The plans provide a strong assessment of water supplies and indicate progression toward integrated water resource management. However, we identify gaps in managing water for the environment, considering socioeconomic and distributional impacts, planning for future drought and climate change, and effective coordination with other water agencies and the public.
... (p. 21) Where the legal orders of Indigenous peoples and the state interact can be the locus of conflict, struggle, advocacy and negotiation -for water, this is embodied in the goal and process of water justice (Getches, 2005;Jackson & Barber, 2013;McLean, 2007McLean, , 2007Nikolakis et al., 2016;Robison et al., 2018;Taylor et al., 2016). ...
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Using a policy tracing approach, we analyse the legislating of the Strategic Aboriginal Water Reserve (SAWR) in the Northern Territory, Australia. The SAWR is a share of the consumptive pool allocated to eligible Indigenous landowners in water plan areas, providing water resources for future economic development. Drawing on parliamentary and policy sources to reveal competing interests and ideologies, and the challenges of codifying water rights, this study finds that legislating water rights alone is insufficient to achieve water justice – water justice measures must respond to power imbalances and inequities by empowering people with the capabilities to implement their rights.
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Research on rural-urban water struggles establishes the importance of symbolic spatial categories for facilitating and justifying rural-to-urban water transfers. I build on this scholarship by asking how officials construct the rural-urban interface, or patterns of interaction across spatial boundaries, during water conflicts. This study takes a historical case study approach centered on the San Juan-Chama Project (SJCP) in New Mexico (USA), a transbasin diversion authorized in 1962 to bring water from the rural San Juan River Basin into the Rio Grande Basin for urban use. Analysis of archival material, government documents, and secondary accounts show that, although the SJCP would primarily benefit urban places, proponents relied heavily on the project’s rural benefits for justification. Through this process, official actors constructed and mobilized rural-urban boundaries in ways that supported greater urban control over regional water resources. These findings have important implications for understanding the formation of rural water injustices.
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Competition for freshwater resources is intensifying water scarcity and its impacts on people, economies, and the environment, posing a growing challenge for sustainable development. Meeting these challenges will require incentives to encourage sustainable water use. Prior calls to shift from supply-driven solutions to a soft path of demand management (pricing, markets, behavioral changes) have encountered stubborn obstacles. We undertake a multi-scale assessment of water reallocation and investment in water conservation technologies to understand their potential and limits for addressing different drivers of water scarcity. Our model identifies what drives water scarcity at the subbasin scale, and examines two prominent responses to these drivers. Our analysis distinguishes different types of water scarcity based on the demands for water and their timing, creating nine (9) categories of water competition, which can overlap. Water demand within agriculture contributes to scarcity in 94% of the basins experiencing scarcity, concentrated in central USA, Spain, and India. Urbanization has led to competition between cities and agriculture in 1,596 of 3,057 subbasins (52%). We examine how different institutional mechanisms (incentive-based water reallocation) and technologies (investment in water conservation technologies) can address these different types of water scarcity. This study builds on several local and high-resolution models demonstrating the potential to increase the economic efficiency (and marginal productivity) of water use. The gap between potential and implementation is high, however. Efforts to bridge this gap in priority geographies can link modelling advances with the design of pathways that combine incentives with robust water accounting, caps on water extraction, and enforcement capacity at multiple scales.
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Around the world, many societies are trying to create and apply apparatuses that recognise Indigenous interests in freshwater systems. Such policies and strategies often acknowledge Indigenous peoples’ rights and values they attached to specific waterways, and take the form of new legal agreements which are directed at reconciling diverse worldviews, values, and ways of life within particular environments. In this chapter we review one such arrangement: the co-governance arrangements between the Māori iwi (tribe) Ngāti Maniapoto and the New Zealand (Government) to co-govern and co-manage the Waipā River. We analysis where the new governance arrangements are enabling Ngāti Maniapoto to achieve environmental justice and find substantive faults most notably distributive inequities, lack of participatory parity, and inadequate recognition of Māori governance approaches.
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This chapter introduces the edited volume Native Title from Mabo to Akiba, which explores different aspects of the impact of native title twenty years after the handing down of Mabo No 2 and the passage of the Native Title Act. The chapter gives an overview of the factors that impact on whether native title can deliver real empowerment and provides an overview of the remaining chapters in the collection.
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Policy makers will increasingly have to turn to water demand management in the future to respond to greater water scarcity. Water markets have long been promoted as one of the most efficient ways to reallocate water by economists, but have also been subject to much criticism due to their possible social, economic and environmental impacts. We engage with common critical perceptions of water markets by presenting first-hand evidence of their effects in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), Australia. Water markets in the MDB, as developed within an appropriate institutional framework and coupled with comprehensive water planning, have: (1) helped deliver improved environmental outcomes; (2) assisted irrigators’ adaptation responses to climate risks, such as drought; (3) increased the gross valued added of farming; and (4) been regulated in ways to meet social goals. If water markets are embedded within fair and effective meta-governance and property right structures, the potential exists for marketisation to increase efficiency, promote fairness in terms of initial water allocations, and to improve environmental outcomes.
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Drawing upon on the literature on Indigenous values to water, water markets and the empirical findings from a survey of 120 Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents across northern Australia, the paper makes important qualitative and statistical comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous values to water markets. The study is the first comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous values to water markets based on the same survey instrument. Key results from Indigenous respondents include: (1) water markets are held to be an acceptable approach to managing water; (2) markets must be carefully designed to protect customary and ecological values; (3) the allocation of water rights need to encompass equity considerations: and (4) water and land rights should not be separated even if this enhances efficiency, as it runs counter to Indigenous holistic values. Overall, the survey results provide the basis for a proposed adaptive decision loop, which allows decision makers to incorporate stakeholder values in water markets.
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The multi-dimensional relationships that Indigenous peoples have with water are only recently gaining recognition in water policy and management activities. Although Australian water policy stipulates that the native title interests of Indigenous peoples and their social, cultural and spiritual objectives be included in water plans, improved rates of Indigenous access to water have been slow to eventuate, particularly in those regions where the water resource is fully developed or allocated. Experimentation in techniques and approaches to both identify and determine Indigenous water requirements will be needed if environmental assessment processes and water sharing plans are to explicitly account for Indigenous water values. Drawing on two multidisciplinary case studies conducted in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, we engage Indigenous communities to (i) understand their values and explore the application of methods to derive water requirements to meet those values; (ii) assess the impact of alternative water planning scenarios designed to address over-allocation to irrigation; and (iii) define additional volumes of water and potential works needed to meet identified Indigenous requirements. We provide a framework where Indigenous values can be identified and certain water needs quantified and advance a methodology to integrate Indigenous social, cultural and environmental objectives into environmental flow assessments.
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This chapter discuss Indigenous peoples' experiences from along the Murray river, with the focus on the changes since river regulation in the twentieth century. It is based on my doctoral work. My doctorate is published as the book 'Murray River Country: An Ecological Dialogue with Traditional Owners', Aboriginal Studies Press, 2009.
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The law of native title in Australia now commonly recognises Indigenous rights to take and use water for personal, social, domestic and cultural purposes. A native title right to take and use water for commercial purposes has not been recognised to date. While it is clear that a native title right to trade as a matter of law can be recognised, the proof and recognition of commercial native title rights is at the moment proving a bridge too far in Australian native title jurisprudence. This is ameliorated to some extent by the future act provisions of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA). These provisions provide an important link into commercial outcomes for Indigenous peoples in certain circumstances. The National Water Initiative is an agreement between the federal, state and territory governments to implement reforms to the management of water throughout Australia. The advocacy of Indigenous people has led to the allocation of water to Indigenous people for commercial purposes - a Strategic Indigenous Reserve in northern Australia in some recent statutory water plans. This is a significant advance in the recognition of Indigenous rights to water for commercial purposes. The extent and utility of this outcome will take some time to play out and be realised. This article describes existing native title rights to water, analyses the reasons for the lack of recognition of commercial native title rights, especially a right to trade. The article then explains the recent recognition of Indigenous commercial rights in the form of a Strategic Indigenous Reserve and proposes some further ways forward.