Overview

In Spain, like everywhere else, ethical factors play a crucial role in water uses and water management. Several recent publications address this topic (see Delli Priscoli and Llamas, 2001; Selborne, 2000; Llamas, 2003b). Human solidarity is one of the ethical principles that underlay most water policy agreements or treaties. One of the meanings of the concept of solidarity, as it applies to the use of natural resources, is that a person's right to use those resources should be constrained or limited by the rights or needs of other human beings now or in the future, including protection of the natural environment.

Nowadays, few people would dare to speak openly against hydrosolidarity (the need to share water resources). In practice, however, it might be difficult to find constructive ways to facilitate an equitable and fair sharing of water resources among concerned stakeholders, particularly in densely populated arid and semiarid regions. Lack of knowledge, arrogance, vested interests, neglect, institutional inertia and corruption are some of the obstacles frequently encountered to achieve hydrosolidarity (Llamas and Martínez-Santos, 2005b). The noble and beautiful concept of hydrosolidarity may also be used in a corrupt or unethical way by some lobbies in order to pocket perverse subsidies, which are bad for the economy and the environment (Delli Priscoli and Llamas, 2001). An example of the improper use of hydrosolidarity is that of the Segura catchment area. It has influenced the approval of the large aqueduct for the Ebro River water diversion included in the first National Water Plan in Spain, which was approved as a Law in July 2001 by the Spanish Parliament, and rebuffed after the general election of March 2004.

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