pdf Popular

Water justice will not be televised: Moral advocacy and the struggle for transformative remunicipalisation in Jakarta

Emanuele Lobina
Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), Department of International Business and Economics, University of Greenwich; e.lobina@gre.ac.uk

Vera Weghmann
Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), Department of International Business and Economics, University of Greenwich; v.weghmann@greenwich.ac.uk

Marwa Semesta
Development Planning Unit, University College London; marwasemesta@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Aiming to advance our understanding of the transformative potential of remunicipalisation, this paper looks at the uncertain and unequal struggle for water remunicipalisation in Jakarta over the last 20 years, and offers an ontological account of the discourse on the human right to water as a catalyst for progressive policy change. A first, formal definition of transformative remunicipalisation is herein offered. This is defined as an ideal type of water remunicipalisation whose institutional legitimacy rests on the moral advocacy of emancipatory insurgency and whose implementation offers concrete possibilities of progress towards emancipatory objectives. With regard to moral advocacy and collective action, the hybridisation of emancipatory discourse enables transcendence of the limitations of the Western concept of the human right to water. By drawing on cross-cultural principles like 'water as life' and the primacy of human flourishing, the proponents of transformative remunicipalisation may turn the human right to water into a powerful discursive resource responding to Southern, if not universal, logics of appropriateness. While water justice is the terrain of inevitable contestation, the tensions between the normative ideals of collective action and the practice of advocacy require the constant reinterpretation of these ideals. This is why water justice will not be televised.

KEYWORDS: Water justice, human right to water, moral advocacy, transformative remunicipalisation, Jakarta, Indonesia