The New Water Paradigm, human capabilities and strong sustainability

Authors: Justus Lodemann, Rafael Ziegler, Pavol Varga - ENGLISH - 2010 – 14 pgs.

Abstract: According to the New Water Paradigm (NWP) developed by Michal Kravčík, Jan Pokorný, Juraj Kohutiar, Martin Kováč, and Eugen Tóth (2008) the collection and retention of rain water in rural and urban areas can strengthen the small water cycle, cool cities, reduce extreme weather events, and mitigate climate change. This paper examines the relation of the NWP to the capabilities approach and theory of strong sustainability. The first section introduces the concepts of strong versus weak sustainability, natural capital, and ecosystem services of water. Section two sketches the old water paradigm (OWP) contrasting this with ecological claims at the core of the NWP. The third section asks whether the NWP meets the criterion of strong sustainability in water management. The analysis suggests that 1) the NWP is likely to increase the capacity of ecosystems to deal with stress, a key objective of sustainability; and 2) the NWP can promote social goals associated with strong sustainability through meeting basic capabilities. A qualified statement is offered because effective implementation of sustainability using the NWP will depend on political commitment and social participation.