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Governing Access to Essential Resources$
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Katharina Pistor and Olivier De Schutter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172783

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172783.001.0001

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Toward Voice and Reflexivity

(p.3) Chapter 1 Introduction
Governing Access to Essential Resources

Olivier De Schutter

Katharina Pistor

Columbia University Press

In their introductory chapter, De Schutter and Pistor argue that in light of increasing absolute and relative scarcity of land and fresh water there is urgent need to improve the governance of these and other essential resources. Emphasizing “essentiality” shifts the debate from allocative efficiency to normative concerns of equity and dignity. Essential resources are indispensable for survival and/or for meaningful participation in a given community. Their allocation therefore cannot be left to the pricing mechanism alone. It requires new parameters for governance. The authors propose Voice and Reflexivity as the key parameters of such a regime. Voice is the ability to collectively choose the rules by which social groups wish to be governed; and Reflexivity to recognize competing claims as legitimate and the willingness to accommodate them. Essential resources are not mere commodities. How they are governed must respect their special place in a dignified society.

Keywords:   Essential resources, Voice, Reflexivity, equity

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