Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Citizens' Assembly in Oceania



An Assembly on Watersheds and Responsible Governance

Translations : English . français . Español

RESPONSE and Waterscape are hosting an Aotearoa-NZ and Pacific assembly on governance of water catchments, November 4-7th 2009. The gathering will draw on diversity of cultural, historical, scientific, economic, technological and artistic ways of relating to and managing rivers and waterways, locally and globally. Knowledge about water will be based on holistic understandings of rivers as veins of the earth’s living ecosystems. The symposium is to contribute to integrative approaches for the health of waterways.


This will be an opportunity to ‘look’ at local and international issues and work with global influences to build collective responsibility for waterways. Strategic planning for systems to safeguard regenerative water and health-giving rivers will be a focus for the assembly, with follow-up implementation plans. We hope to contribute to endeavours to redress the degeneration of waterways which is taking place locally and globally. This assembly is part of a worldwide process leading to Citizen Assemblies in a number of regions (Mediterranean, Southern Cone, Asia, Sahel-Sahara, Europe, Oceania, etc.). The symposium, or assembly in New Zealand, ‘Watersheds and Governance’ will lead into the 2010 Pacific Assembly which is to based on the idea ‘What Oceania Does the World Need?’. The FPH, an independent Swiss foundation based in Paris, is supporting this process.

The 2009 assembly in New Zealand is to focus on governance and environmental responsibility internationally, to build innovation in integrative systems, inter-sectoral collaboration, and interdisciplinary dialogue. In the Pacific context we are working with indigenous knowledge and interests in governance for holistic management of water ecosystems. ‘Watersheds: Responsible Governance’ will be part of a regional programme of responsibility for the health of water ecosystems. Water provides for life on Earth through the multitudinous transactions of ecological systems. Healthy rivers are fundamental to the health of life on Earth and the condition of rivers is a potent and visible indicator of the health and productivity of the landscape. As highly responsive systems, they clearly reflect our lifestyle and its impacts on the natural environment.


Our intention is to create dialogue and discussion on common concerns about water and waterways, in a context of respect for differences in world views. The proposed gathering for an anticipated 30 or so people, will include field visit to a river in the Otaki area. Analysis will include review of the catchment and extend to wider contexts in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Pacific and include global considerations. Approaches for the seminar:

  • Papers will be prepared on the five questions below and pre-circulated. Participants will be invited to propose questions, or rise issues on the themes prior to the seminar.
  • Film or DVD presentations will support global and local interests in water ecosystems and watersheds, including works and contributions from participants.
  • There will be plenary planning to carry forward proposals and actions arising from the seminar.


Professionals and leaders with expertise in the areas identified in the questions are being invited to prepare papers to lead discussions. These areas include governance, inter-sectoral collaboration, the ecology of rivers, engineering, science, indigenous knowledge, policy development, ethics, creative writing and environmental history and law. Participants will also be drawn from these socio-professional fields. While notice of the assembly is being distributed throughout relevant networks, some participants will be specifically invited. There will be a session for each question, and plenary sessions for implementation plans. The material from the assembly will be compiled into a publication (in a form to be determined) along with outcomes of the workshop.

QUESTIONS (abbreviated)

  • What is responsible governance for holistic management of water eco-systems?
  • What institutional or cultural arrangements support the health of water and people?
  • How do we measure or represent river health?
  • What are the implications of natural dynamics for management?
  • How do the RMA (Resource Management Act) and LGA (Local Government Act) help and hinder holistic management?

This gives an overview of our plans for the assembly to date. We are in the process of inviting the preparation of responses to the questions and of distributing programme details.







Pacific Summer Assembly


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