The Need for a Value-Reflexive Governance of Water in the Anthropocene

  • Simon Meisch
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


The paper reflects on the conditions for a value-reflexive governance of water as a tool to contribute to Sustainable Development within the Anthropocene and to deal with the social and political challenges along the way. Its contribution consists in integrating value discourses in sustainable water governance. These value discourses are necessary and unavoidable. While integrating more stakeholders in problem solving and knowledge production leads to more value disputes, it will at the same time strengthen the legitimacy of water governance. A value-reflexive governance aims to make visible the values underlying scientific and political concepts, and to treat value conflicts in an ethically informed and structured way. The paper discusses conceptual considerations and critically assesses the Anthropocene concept and deals with challenges to sustainable water governance. It then argues that the approach of value-reflexive governance might be useful for water governance and shows what questions need to be considered conceptually: What are values? What is the contribution of ethics to a value-reflexive governance of water? What is the relationship between good and value-reflexive governance? As a result a pragmatically concept of values and a more value-reflexive stance to values in governance is suggested.


Good Governance Global Environmental Change Integrate Water Resource Management Ethical Debate Governance Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The paper builds on previous work and results of the EU project “Value Isobars—The Landscape and Isobars of European Values in Relation to Science and New Technology” (FP7 31004480; I acknowledge the provision of important discussion points from project partners and especially thank Thomas Potthast, Matthias Kaiser and Helen Ingram. The full responsibility for the content, style, errors and inaccuracies is mine.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Junior Research Group “Ethics of Science in the Research for Sustainable Development”International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities, University of TuebingenTuebingenGermany

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