UC Law academic wins Royal Society award for water rights research
University of Canterbury Law academic, Associate Professor Elizabeth Macpherson has been presented with the 2021 Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Excellence Award for Humanities, for her work exploring opportunities for Indigenous peoples’ water rights in laws and policies around the world.
Associate Professor Elizabeth Macpherson has been presented with the 2021 Royal Society Te Apārangi Early Career Research Excellence Award for Humanities.
In 2019, Associate Professor Macpherson released her book, Indigenous Water Rights in Law and Regulation: Lessons from Comparative Experience (Cambridge University Press), which is regarded as the first comprehensive examination of laws and policies around the world that protect Indigenous peoples’ rights to use and regulate water. The book provides comparative studies in Chile, Colombia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Australia – four countries where work to recognise Indigenous water rights is under way. Her analysis of these examples offers a glimpse into a future possible world where Indigenous peoples have both a fair share of rights to use water resources for any purpose, and the recognised authority or jurisdiction to make decisions about the management of water.
Indigenous Water Rights in Law and Regulation is groundbreaking in its coverage and the insights it offers into international legal and policy frameworks for Indigenous water rights, drawing on Associate Professor Macpherson’s Spanish language skills and in-depth fieldwork in each country. It provides a compelling account of the struggle of Indigenous peoples for ownership and governance of water, which is central to their lives and community.
The book is already being used in evidence to judicial bodies, government commissions and inquiries, and by Indigenous communities. The impact and relevance of the findings can also be seen here in Aotearoa New Zealand, where the government has embarked on water law and policy reform.
In 2020, Indigenous Water Rights in Law and Regulation was awarded the 2020 Law and Society Association of Australia and NZ (LSAANZ) prize for most outstanding book.