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Governing Bottled Water: Water-Centric Cities and the Commodification of the Human Right to Water

Governing Bottled Water: Water-Centric Cities and the Commodification of the Human Right to Water

My talk on the regulation of bottled water in North American cities (Canada, the US and Mexico). I posit an argument whereby I showcase that the regulatory spider webs of bottled water governance effectively preclude us from achieving a well-implemented Water-Centric Cities paradigm shift.

Raul Pacheco-Vega

April 15, 2016

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  1. Governing Bottled Water: Water-Centric Cities and the Commodification of the

  2. If you are live-tweeting my talk… “Quote” - @raulpacheco #WaterCentricCities

    (no need to include the quotes nor the dash) e.g. Bottled water could be ex. of HR2W in dev. countries - @raulpacheco #WaterCentricCities
  3. Bottled water: A global environmental governance paradox  Water should

    be a global human right (UN Resolution 64/292, July 28, 2010)  Yet, bottled water has grown to become one of the most profitable industries globally.  Commodifying the human right to water (Pacheco- Vega 2015a, b, 2016a, b)
  4. None
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  6. Global and US/Canada bottled water consumption (10^9 litres) 0 50

    100 150 200 250 300 World USA Canada
  7. Context: Other scholarly treatments of bottled water  Hawkins, Potter

    and Race (2015) “Plastic Water: The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water” MIT Press.  Material culture treatment of “how bottled water insinuated themselves into our lives”  Gleick (2011) “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water” Island Press.  From a natural science perspective, a social science perspective on bottled water  Clarke (2005) “Inside The Bottle: An Expose of the Bottled Water Industry”  An activist’s view of the BW industry (briefly takes on the regulatory component too)
  8. Context: Other book-length treatments of bottled water  Mascha (2006)

    Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters. Quirk Books  !?!?!?!? There is a sommelier for bottled water  Royte (2009) “Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle Over America's Drinking Water” Bloomsbury  A very strong focus on the plastic bottle, but an indictment too of bottled water  Salzman (2012) “Drinking Water: A History” The Overlook Press  From the tap water perspective, a legal and historical view of why bottled water has taken over our lives
  9. Packaged Rights: Essays on the Global Politics of Bottled Water

     Components:  Study on ENGO mobilizations against Nestlé in Canada and the United States (WPSA, MPSA, CPSA)  Research on determinants of bottled water consumption in Mexico (w/Alfredo Ortega, RISSA, PMRC), stories about BW (w/Laura Estrada), marketing (w/Karina Leyva), and mobilizations (w/Daniela Ramirez) – book in Spanish, chapter in Spanish, chapter(s) in English volume  Analysis of anti-bottled water vs. pro-tap water campaigns in US and Canadian universities (CPSA)  Work on the ethics of “ethical bottled water” (w/ Christiana Peppard, Fordham University)  Investigation of new regulatory frameworks (or lack thereof) for bottled water in cities (Water Centric Cities, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)
  10. A conceptual model of market intervention in water governance Privatization

    Marketization Commodification How is water affected by market interventions? Privatization of a water utility or the implementation of new models of alternative delivery service models (ADS) Broadly speaking, market-based policy instruments such as water markets and water trading permits and their implementation at local, regional and national scales. Multinational corporations who undertake the commodification of water resources in the form of soda (pop/soft drinks) or bottled water Source: My own conceptualization after Bakker 2013, Harris 2013 and Pacheco-Vega 2015
  11. Research Questions  How can we govern bottled water within

    the context of a “water-centric cities” paradigm? and  What does implementing a “water-centric cities” paradigm entail for the bottled water industry?
  12. From a global perspective…  Conca (2005) Governing Water: Contentious

    Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building, The MIT Press.  Water seen at a global scale from an IR perspective.  Bottled water and mercantilization touched upon, inspiring further work…
  13. From a local perspective…  Determinants of bottled water consumption

    at the local scale o Public health concerns o Hydration and luxury consumption o Ethical and luxury brand marketing o Ease of access (lack of access to water fountains and/or bottle refilling stations)  But… wait a minute… o Cities (local governments) are responsible for providing safe drinking water… o Yet financial concerns have led municipalities to privatize their water supply… o No regulatory framework for extraction, packaging and consumption of BW
  14. Is bottled water permissible within the context of a water-centric

    city?  Answer: It depends.  It depends? On what? On how you define water-centric city On what goals you have as a water-centric city  water as conservation,  water as consumption,  water as a business
  15. HRW as a frame of meaning against privatization of water

    supply vs acceptance of bottled water (norm diffusion)
  16. HRW and BW from a domestic- international perspective  Whereas

    previous conceptualizations of HRW focused on it as STRATEGY, I side with Mirosa and Harris (2012) in that we need to reconsider HRW as a framework for GOAL ATTAINMENT.  Implementing the HRW will necessitate a focus on two simultaneous strategies: a) Remunicipalization of private water service delivery b) Regulation and control of the global bottled water industry across scales
  17. Regulation of bottled and tap water US Canada Mexico Tap

    water US Environmental Protection Agency (Safe Drinking Water Act) Provinces (ownership of water supply and distributive model) – but also safe drinking water acts Health Secretariat Municipalities are responsible for providing it (water utilities) National Water Commission governs well drilling. Bottled water US Food and Drugs Agency Food and Drugs Acts and regulation (food) Health Secretariat (solely for health purposes) This simple classification into tap water and bottled water obscures the realities of extraction, packaging, distribution, etc. (contrary to what Posnick and Kim 2002 argue) Reality is much more complex… and we need to include ecosystem health in our understanding of these issues
  18. Problems with the regulation of bottled water in cities 

    No clear understanding of negative impacts on water wells, nor any sanctions towards extractive industries.  Solely focusing on human health concerns obscures the realities of ecosystem health issues.  Alternative water uses (other industries, urban redevelopment, agriculture) also become problematic.  To become a water-centric city, we need to include the bottled water industry business in the conversation.
  19. Preliminary conclusions  The water-centric cities paradigm isn’t as simple

    as we might want to believe it is.  We need an interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, open and honest discussion about what it would take to become a Water Centric City  Bottled water, regardless of its global dimension, is often times a local business and thus needs to be included in the conversation.  Governance spider webs – overlapping jurisdictions, regulation mismatch, regulatory capture all present challenges for the Water Centric City.
  20. Thank you  Dr. Patrice Petro and Dr. Jenny Kehl

    for the invitation  Mark Brand for all logistical support  Center for International Education (CIE) at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (and Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UWM) My research assistants (Luis Alberto Hernandez, Maribel Eudave, Daniela Ramirez, Karina Leyva) and my graduate students (Alfredo Ortega, Laura Estrada) for research assistantship and helping me think through these issues. Audiences at ISA 2016, WPSA 2016, MPSA 2016 and American University
  21. Thank you! Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD Centro de Investigación y Docencia

    Económicas (CIDE) http://www.raulpacheco.org Twitter: @raulpacheco Facebook: DrPachecoVega E-mail: raul.pach[email protected]