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Challenges to Promote a Common Approach: Dialogue on Water Governance in São Paulo Macrometropolis (Brazil)

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Jacobi, Pedro Roberto; Torres, Pedro; Rotondaro, Tatiana; Milz, Beatriz; Haddad, Camila; Alonso, Lidiane
Conference: In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action, the Seventeenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Lima, Peru
Conf. Date: July 1-5
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10677
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Abstract: "Brazil has been suffering serious situations of water scarcity in several regions, and the most dramatic case was the recent (2014-2015) drought in the São Paulo Macrometropolis, which comprises more than 170 municipalities (including São Paulo metropolitan region) and more than 35 million inhabitants. Water scarcity in this region, due to increasingly unsustainable water use is affected mainly by two factors: the rise of climate impacts and pollution of water sources (linked to deficit sanitation services). This is directly related to the impacts of the ecosystems’ deterioration caused by the asymmetric conditions of urbanization and unequal access to drinking water and basic sanitation. This consideration leads us to dialogue with the contemporary debates on water as a commons or commodity, related to the dynamics of sharing of responsibility for water supply between the state, the private sector, and the citizens. These debates on the conflicting approaches over water supply governance take place between the public utility, the private sector, and a new culture of water based on strong considerations on sustainability and equitable access. In this paper we analyze the impacts of the water crisis and the potential of strengthening initiatives to advance in policies that emphasize a logic of commons. The National Water Law in Brazil has existed since 1997. It incorporates modern water resources management principles. The need to manage conflicts arising from water use priorities led to incorporate civil society actors within “Water basin committees”, created by this law. Water governance thus needs to tackle sustainability and social aspects, leaving behind the managerial perspective. Also, the National Law defines the river basin as a territorial unit for water territorial planning, and water as a scarce resource which has economic value, identifying multiple uses and user rights."

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