Practice

Sweeping consequences for nature and resource conservation based on traditional religious beliefs in today's world cannot be expected, especially regarding the sea. Protection of wells and other bodies of water in dry areas and deserts was a practice of survival. Not without reason does the bible directly or indirectly mention their value (Ps. 73, 15; Js 41, 18; Jac 3, 11, Rev 21, 6). The population increase in central Europe in the Christian Middle Ages (Leguay, 1999) forced more careful behavior toward water supplies. Indeed, all references point to - at least in the relatively well-supplied area of Central Europe - wells, rivers, and seas inland precisely in the area of settlement. Marine ecosystems shifted simply in connection to coastal protection and the foundation of port cities like Venice or those in the Netherlands (Radkau, 2000). The sea was regarded as mysterious and contradictorily valued as both dangerous and beneficent (Bechtold-Staubli and Hoffmann-Krayer, 1935, 1987). In the "Book of Nature" (1547-1550) by Konrad von Megenberg, sea life was portrayed more fantastically than realistically (translated by Sollbach, 1990). Still, he acknowledged in support that the sea was the "Father of waters" and supplied the inland water (Bechtold-Staubli and Hoffmann-Krayer, 1935, 1987).

Accordingly, water as a natural element enjoyed a special value and its use was always bound by moral responsibilities. In spite of scientific advances, the attentive-ness of churchly moral teachings and practices of care are concentrated on areas of settlement. Therefore, the present-day concrete concerns for acute water scarcity is decisive in poor countries. This is showed by the organization of a conference of

"Ecumenical Water Networks" (EWN). As an initiative of churches, organizations, and movements, it pursues the goal of "protecting and guaranteeing of water supply for all people in the world, promoting community initiatives and projects to overcome the water crisis, and ensuring that the collective Christian voice will be heard in the debate on water problems."

The Pope sent a message on March 27, 2007, to the Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, that may be able to illustrate the way of thinking that comes from a religiously based ethic. It states among other things (quoted by the official announcement of the roman-catholic church in Germany):

Water is an essential commodity for human life. The management of this valuable resource must be administered so that all people, especially the poor, have access and that both people living today and future generations are guaranteed a life on this planet fit for humans.

Access to water belongs to the inalienable rights of every human and it is a precondition for the realization of many other human rights like the rights to life, food, and health. Therefore, water can "not be treated as any other resource and its use must be rational and solidary. (...) The right to water is based on the dignity of man and not on a simply quantitative value, which regards water as an economic commodity. Without water life is endangered. Therefore, the right to water is an inalienable and universal right (...)

Towards this goal, the behavior towards water must be regarded as a socioeconomic, ethical, and environmental challenge that concerns not only institutions but also the society as a whole. It is a challenge that must be faced with the principle of subsidiarity, namely by the participation by the private sector and mostly too, by local communities;

• With the principle of solidarity, the cornerstone of international cooperation, that bestows special attention to the poor

• With the principle of responsibility for both present and future generations that calls for the necessary revision of ... consumption and production models

This responsibility must be widely shared and become a moral and political imperative in a world that has access to extensive knowledge and technology (...) in order to achieve dramatic consequences. However, where a mutual hydrologi-cal dependence ground in a far-sighted attitude reigns that binds the users (... ) in neighboring countries to a common system, then this responsibility can become the basis for inter-regional cooperation .

We are all called upon to create a new way of living to restore value and care to this common resource of man that we must have for our society."

All of these reputable objectives should be discharged into the ambitions, which are aimed for in the different perspectives in this book.

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