Diverging from the economic water valuation paradigm: emergent valuation approaches from an omnicentric perspective

Ms Liz Charpleix1

1University Of New England, Armidale, Australia


Problems relating to water, including scarcity, equitable access for humans and non-humans, pollution and environmental concerns, are globally prevalent in the Anthropocene period. The dominant paradigm for valuing water is economic, whereby water is treated as a commodity and valued in financial terms, to be bought and sold like any other good or service. The proliferation and exacerbation of water issues is arguably linked to this resourcist valuation approach, which is incapable of fully appreciating the wide range of water’s non-economic values.

This presentation provides an insight into a number of alternative valuation approaches. These include economic hybrids, legally plural approaches and those that recognise the agency of water in socio-natural relationships, a feature that is generally invisible in anthropocentric value systems. Such emergent approaches diverge from the hegemony of the developed world’s economic paradigm and converge in search of innovative possibilities. They draw on existing Indigenous cultural practices, integrate alternative legal systems into the dominant system and observe the world from an omnicentric (‘for all things’) instead of anthropocentric (‘for humans’) perspective. The 2017 recognition of the legal personhood of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s Whanganui River will be discussed as an example of convergence beyond anthropocentric valuation approaches towards omnicentric opportunities.


Liz Charpleix is a PhD candidate at UNE in Armidale, NSW. Her research explores how water is and can be valued, and how non-economic valuation systems may offer better outcomes for humans and non-humans. She has pursued her water research in Delft and Vienna, as well as in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where the groundbreaking recognition of the legal personhood of the Whanganui River was enacted in 2017.

She holds the degrees of BA (Hons) and BFA from the University of Tasmania and a Master of Commerce (Accounting) from UNE. She lives off the grid in southern Tasmania.

Email: liz@iris42.com.au

The law of the river: exploring more-than-human agency in water governance in the Riverland, South Australia

Ms Nicola Perry1

1University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Place-based agency has been recognised as contributing to the creation and enactment of environmental law (Bartel, 2018). Using preliminary fieldwork conducted in the Riverland area of South Australia along the Murray River, and with a focus on water and wetlands, this talk will pay attention to the influence of more-than-human actors in shaping water governance. The Riverland is a place where water, in forms historic and current, local and distant, plentiful and absent, is central to local identity. Both locally and in the wider Murray Darling Basin, plural regulatory landscapes have evolved alongside physical or ‘natural’ constraints shaping the ways in which river operators seek to move water around the system. This talk will consider discourses and materialities wherein more than human actors were observed to shape the use and management of environmental water.


Nicola Perry is PhD Student at the University of Sydney. She has a keen interest in legal geography and human-environment relationships, with a focus on wetland settings. Following her honours year investigating gender-differentiated impacts of conservation in a protected wetland in Cambodia, Nicola’s current research examines the governance and social impacts of the delivery of environmental water to wetlands on private property in the Murray Darling Basin.

When nature does not keep her promises.

Dr Lesley Crowe-delaney1



Is there a possibility that tourists when disappointed by nature, can become litigious? Chinese academics believe there is accountability when nature does not perform. This paper looks at the issue of a host country, Japan and its tourism agencies, not being able to accurately predict the exact time of autumn color for a tourist experience. This paper aims to stimulate discussion on the ‘promises’ by nature to perform, such as in whale watching or dolphin spotting, or when she ‘underperforms’. When these issues occur, what are the ethical implications for the tourist and where may litigious action begin, when nature does not keep to her promise?


Lesley is a Research Fellow at Curtin University in the Faculty of Business and Law, School of Marketing, Tourism Research Centre, researching Australian, Japanese, Chinese and PICs tourism, fisheries and nature and their policies and politics.

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