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Reframing water: contesting H2O within the European Union


de Lourdes Melo Zurita, M and Thomsen, DC and Smith, TF and Lyth, A and Preston, BL and Baum, S, Reframing water: contesting H2O within the European Union, Geoforum, 65 pp. 170-178. ISSN 0016-7185 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.07.022


Water fulfills multiple functions and is instilled with numerous meanings: it is concurrently an economic input, an aesthetic reference, a religious symbol, a public good, a fundamental resource for public health, and a biophysical need for humans and ecosystems. Hence, water has multiple ontologies embedded within diverse social, cultural, spiritual, and political domains. For this paper, we reviewed 78 pieces of water legislation across the European Union, critically analysing the different ways in which water has been defined; subsequently we contrasted these definitions against the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD). We argue that the act of defining water is not only a deeply social and political process, but that it often privileges specific worldviews; and that the impetus of the WFD reveals a neoliberal approach to water governance: an emphasis on water as a commercial product that should be subjected to market influences. Subsequently, we conclude that the emerging concept of the ’hydrosocial cycle,’ which emphasises the inherent links between water and society, could be a useful heuristic tool to promote a broader conception of water based on diverse understandings, that challenge hegemonic definitions of water.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:hydrosocial cycle, water governance, European Union, Water Framework Directive
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Natural resource management
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Lyth, A (Dr Anna Lyth)
ID Code:102356
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2015-08-16
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:175 View Download Statistics

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