202907 Epistemic Communities and Mainstream Water Discourse

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:45 AM

Thomas Kane , Department of Geography and Sociology, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland
An increasingly organised network of transnational policy groups, lobbyists, think tanks and trade associations have emerged as significant and powerful purveyors of ‘ideas' concerning water management and governance within prevailing water discourse. This paper will explore the interlocking relationships that comprise this network as well as the increasingly prominent ‘ideas' that influence national and global policy and governing structures. Prominent within this network are organisations such as the World Business Council For Sustainable Development, the World Economic Forum, the European Water Partnership, the World Water Council and its tri-annual World Water Forum and the Global Water Partnership. These organisations advocate an increase in property rights associated with water services and a subsequent increase in the deregulation of the public water sector. Their support for pricing mechanisms (i.e. the increase in the economic value of water) normalises and standardises the enclosure of the water commons thereby favouring industrial users as well as those possessing sufficient financial means to participate in the marketplace, whilst marginalising the economically vulnerable.

By way of social network analysis, this paper will consider the disproportionate power of this ‘epistemic community' and explore their reach as it relates policy reform favourable to corporate interests in the water sector. Furthermore, this paper will consider the implications of this disproportionate power relation with respect to its detrimental effects on democracy in general, as well as its subversion of more holistic approaches to the creation of more inclusive ideas in water management and governance.

Learning Objectives:
1.List and define the powerful and interlocking epistemic community dominating water discourse. 2. Identify the main themes and messages within the water discourse. 3. Formulate and consider the potential an extension of the epistemic community incorporating a more holistic approach.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My ongoing research as co-editor of a new online water portal, as part of the Spinwatch/Spinprofiles project, considers powerful epistemic communities in the global and water sphere.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.