High water near Nijmegen, the Netherlands, February
The “Who” And “What” Of Water Ethics






Water consumption and freshwater supplies are unevenly shared worldwide, while droughts and floods as extreme climate events are becoming more common. Water challenges cannot be addressed by technical means only. We must reflect on the trade-offs between economic and environmental concerns, and identify which water-related risks to prioritize. Thus, water ethics become an important analytical key in posing two critical questions: what values are at stake when we address the world’s water challenges, and who is affected by these water challenges? This links to questions of responsibility: to the extent that these water challenges are related to past behavior, the “past” may create a responsibility to address these present challenges, including when they materialize in other regions.

How to Cite

Doorn, N. (2022). The “Who” And “What” Of Water Ethics. Blue Papers, 1(1), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.58981/bluepapers.2022.1.05





challenges, concepts and new approaches

Author Biography

Neelke Doorn, Delft University of Technology

Full professor in Ethics of Water Engineering at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands). Professor Doorn has degrees in civil engineering, philosophy and law. In May 2011, she obtained her PhD from Delft University of Technology for her thesis on moral responsibility in R & D networks. Her work centers around moral questions in water engineering and policy, and climate change more generally, for which she combines philosophical approaches with empirical investigations and modeling tools.

In her previous NWO Veni project, she looked at distributive questions in flood risk management. Here she developed a moral framework for distributing flood risks, based on the distinction between reversible and irreversible risks. Her current NWO Vidi project focuses on policies for climate adaptation. Recent book titles include Water Ethics: An Introduction (published with Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Engineering (co-edited with Diane Michelfelder, 2021).


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