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Maintaining a river's healthy life? An inquiry on water ethics and water praxis in the upstream region of China's Yellow River

Lilin Kerschbaumer
Philosophisches Seminar, Christian-Albrechts-Universit├Ąt zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany; kerschbaumer@philsem.uni-kiel.de
Konrad Ott
Philosophisches Seminar, Christian-Albrechts-Universit├Ąt zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany; ott@philsem.uni-kiel.de

ABSTRACT: Sustainability of freshwater has become one of the most prominent issues in Chinese river basins. Recently, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission adopted the approach of 'Maintaining the Healthy Life of the Yellow River' (HLR) as the top principle in its management scheme. We locate arguments by HLR advocates in an ecocentric line of reasoning within Environmental Ethics. In view of crucial problems of ecocentrism, we conclude that HLR might be better grounded in the paradigm of Strong Sustainability (StS). With the case of the Hetao Irrigation Area at the upstream of the Yellow River, we recommend a StS-scenario with suggestions for policy reforms.

KEYWORDS: The Yellow River, ecocentrism, water ethics, sustainability, Hetao irrigation area