The Right to Water engages with a range of approaches that focus on philosophical, legal and governance perspectives before seeking to apply these more abstract arguments to an array of concrete struggles and case studies. In so doing, the book builds on empirical examples from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and the European Union.
Farhana Sultana is Assistant Professor of Geography at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, USA. Her research interests and publications are in water governance, political ecology, gender and development. Combining insights and experiences in and outside academia, she engages in critical interdisciplinary research on water in the global South.
Alex Loftus is Lecturer in Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. His research focuses on the political ecology of water and the political possibilities within urban ecologies. He is the author of Everyday Environmentalism: Creating an Urban Political Ecology (University of Minnesota Press).
The authors show how open and constantly changing water networks can be managed successfully using collaborative adaptive techniques to build informed agreements among disciplinary experts, water users with conflicting interests, and governmental bodies with countervailing claims.
Shafiqul Islam is an engineer with over twenty-five years of practical experience in addressing water issues. Lawrence Susskind is founder of MIT's Environmental Policy and Planning Program and a leader of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Together they have developed a text that is relevant for students and experienced professionals working in a variety of engineering, science, and applied social science fields. They show how new thinking about water conflict can replace the zero-sum battles that pit experts, politicians, and stakeholders against each other in counter-productive ways. Their volume not only presents the key elements of a theory of water diplomacy; it includes excerpts and commentary from more than two dozen seminal readings as well as practice exercises that challenge readers to apply what they have learned.
More than ever, Americans rely on independent special districts to provide public services. The special district—which can be as small as a low-budget mosquito abatement district or as vast as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—has become the most common form of local governance in the United States. In Governing the Tap, Megan Mullin examines the consequences of specialization and the fragmentation of policymaking authority through the lens of local drinking-water policy. Directly comparing specific conservation, land use, and contracting policies enacted by different forms of local government, Mullin investigates the capacity of special districts to engage in responsive and collaborative decision making that promotes sustainable use of water resources. She concludes that the effect of specialization is conditional on the structure of institutions and the severity of the policy problem, with specialization offering the most benefit on policy problems that are least severe. Mullin presents a political theory of specialized governance that is relevant to any of the variety of functions special districts perform. Governing the Tap offers not only the first study of how the new decentralized politics of water is taking shape in American communities, but also new and important findings about the influence of institutional structures on local policymaking.