Water Governance examples from Brazil and China – Governance tools to approach water as a Human Right

When? 1 PM CEST Thursday 23 June

Where? Register to join this event on Zoom here

If reason, as conceptualized in the modernist project, brought us to the verge of destruction, the postmodernist movement tells us to deconstruct our experiences, however, without providing a what is to replace them. We might consider it the background condition of the precarious state of nature due to human intervention. 

Since the dawn of the European Great Navigations period, there has been a systematic movement to detach the natural world from the social one. The term “nature”, which includes the human species, has been substituted by “the environment”, which implies the things surrounding humanity. Even usage of the term nature nowadays implicates in positioning the man as an outside observer of an object, which Raymond Willian has noted in his seminal work Ideas of Nature: “One touch of nature may make the whole world kin, but usually, when we say nature, do we mean to include ourselves?” 

The existing ontological and epistemological paradox in international water governance is a direct cause of the separation of the natural from the social worlds. The high pressures that the developmental model applies over nature pose an existential threat to humankind. At the same time, International Water Law emerged and is sustained marginally to the regulations of trade or excesses or abuses of property rights.

International Law recognizes the role of water in the sustainability of life on earth. The United Nations thru Resolution-AG 64/292 stated firmly that the right to water and sanitation are essential to the realization of other human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals, goal 6 reiterates the need for clean water and sanitation, which is connected to the other goals. Constitutions around the globe have erected the right to water to a fundamental constitutional right that deserves special protection.

Despite the efforts to make water and sanitation part of the higher legal structures at international and national dimensions, the apathy of state actors to ensure the realization of the right to water and sanitation is far from reaching the most vulnerable. According to Our World in Data, 1.2 million people die every year due to unsafe water sources, and 775.000 due to the lack of proper sanitation (not to mention the impact that unsafe water and sanitation has in childhood).

This panel aims to access and deconstruct in a Derridean sense the water governance under a decolonial approach that is tuned to the debates of water as a human right, connected to indigenous traditions and providing legal personality to the environment. The panel shall seek knowledge connecting said approaches to water with the existing development model in the world. In other words, the central hypothesis of this panel is that there is no sustainable development with the separation between natural and social worlds, so water is not just part of the ancestry tradition nor just a commodity, but a human right to be realized in connection with others to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.

The selected papers presentation are interdisciplinary, ranging from perspectives of international Law, History, and Socio-legal studies


  1. Third-World Approaches to International Water Law

            Douglas de Castro, School of Law-Lanzhou University (China)

  1. Drinking water project in Brazil 

Maria Luiza Machado Granziera, Universidade Católica de Santos (Brazil)

  1. Water in the context of a circular bioeconomy

Danielle Mendes Thame Denny, “Luiz de Queiroz” Superior School of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

  1. The Brazilian National Water Resources Plan 2022-2040

Giuliana Corrêa, National Secretariat for Water Security, Ministry of Regional Development, Brazil

  1. Environmental Legal System of Past Dynasties in Xinjiang Oasis Region: a case study of water resources

Maimaiti Aikebaer, School of Law-Lanzhou University (China)

  1. The importance of social participation to ensure the right of access to water – a case study of a small river. 

Bartira Elia, “Luiz de Queiroz” Superior School of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

After the paper presentations there will be a virtual book pre-launch

Manual for Water Conservation and Reuse in the Sugar-Energy Agroindustry and Irrigation Technology, its growth potential in Brazil and its legislation[1].

[1] ELIA NETO, A. et all Irrigação da Cana de Açúcar. A Tecnologia de Irrigação, seu Potencial de Crescimento no Brasil e sua Legislação. Grupo de Irrigação e Fertirrigação de Cana-de-açúcar, Piracicaba, São Paulo, 2022.

ELIA NETO, André. Manual de Conservação e Reúso de Água na Agroindústria Sucroenergética / Agência Nacional de Águas; Federação da Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo; União da Indústria da Cana-de-açúcar; Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira. Brasília: ANA, 2009.


Douglas de Castro

Douglas de Castro, School of Law-Lanzhou University (China)
Professor of International Law at the School of Law-Lanzhou University (China). Visiting Scholar in the Foundation for Law and International Affairs (Washington D.C.). Researcher in the Global Law Center – São Paulo Law School (FGV), and Center of Advanced Studies in International Politics and Law at Ambra University (Florida). Post-Doc in International Law – São Paulo Law School (FGV). PhD in Political Science – University of São Paulo (FFLCH-USP). Master’s in law – University of São Paulo (FD-USP). LL.M. in International Law – J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU).

Danielle Mendes Thame Denny

Danielle Mendes Thame Denny, “Luiz de Queiroz” Superior School of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (Brazil)
Researcher at the Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics, post-doctoral fellow at the “Luiz de Queiroz” Higher School of Agriculture at the University of Sao Paulo. She has also been a visiting researcher at the Asia-Pacific Center for Environmental Law at the National University of Singapore, at the Department of Law and Computer Science at University College London, England and at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. , USA. She was twice a scholarship holder of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (PhD and sandwich). Research interests: renewable energy, sustainability standards, use of technology for socio-environmental governance, green finance and circular bioeconomy.

Giuliana Corrêa

Giuliana Corrêa, National Secretariat for Water Security, Ministry of Regional Development, Brazil.

Master’s degree in Governance and Development from ENAP (2022), a degree in International Relations from UnB (2005).

Maimaiti Aikebaer

Maimaiti Aikebaer, School of Law-Lanzhou University (China)
Researcher, master candidate in the School of Law-Lanzhou University. Maimaiti is a Bachelor of Law from Xinjiang University with an exchange period at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. Among the academic achievements are the 2019-2020 school term first-class academic scholarship for postgraduates in Lanzhou University, and June 2020 the third prize of the “New Academic” National Postgraduate Academic English Vocabulary Competition of Fudan University, Shanghai. He has published papers in the field of Law in China. He holds the Chinese Legal Professional Qualification.

Maria Luiza Machado Granziera

Maria Luiza Machado Granziera, Universidade Católica de Santos (Brazil)
Lawyer in São Paulo. Consultant with over 30 years of experience in environmental law, water resources, basic sanitation, solid waste, public contracts, concessions and bids in Brazil and Latin America. UNESCO and OAS consultant. Master in International Law and PhD in Law from the University of São Paulo. Associate Professor at the Stricto Sensu Graduate Program, Master’s and Doctorate in International Environmental Law at the Catholic University of Santos (UNISANTOS). Leader of the Energy and Environment Research Group. Author of the books Environmental Law, 5th. ed., Water Law Freshwater Legal Discipline, 4th. ed. and Comments on Law nº 9.984/2000, among other works.

Bartira Elia

Bartira Elia, “Luiz de Queiroz” Superior School of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

Researcher, scientific initiation candidate in Environmental Governance. Environmental law and administrative consultant at GIFC – Sugarcane’s Irrigation and Fertirrigation Group.

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