Fair Wings

Perceived distributive fairness of alternative systems

Despite the many benefits that alternative, i.e. novel and decentralized, water and sanitation systems bring to society, adoption rates are low. Therefore, a few governments have issued policies that mandate the adoption of alternative systems for a part of the population, while keeping the centralized system for the rest of the population. While such policies may successfully increase adoption rates, they may threaten the fair distribution of any (non-) monetary costs and benefits of water and sanitation systems in society.

More specifically, while the benefits of alternative systems are often shared in society, there is the risk that only the adopters of these systems may have to bear the costs. A lack of distributive fairness might reduce the public acceptability of adoption-policies and related systems and thus the chances of such policies and systems being successfully implemented. A better understanding of the perceived distributive fairness of adoption-policies and associated systems as well as its implications for public acceptability is thus needed to inform the shape of future policies and related publicizing activities.

This is the focus of ‘Fair Wings’ – a project recently funded by the Eawag Directorate starting on 1 April 2021. Fair Wings is a collaborative project across three Eawag Departments and several disciplines: Josianne Kollmann, a postdoctoral researcher in health psychology who joins the ESS department in April, will run the project together with Christoph Lüthi (urban infrastructure planner, Sandec department) and myself (environmental health psychologist, ESS department). Further contributors are Christian Binz (economic geographer, ESS) and Eberhard Morgenroth (civil and environmental engineer, ENG department). Case studies will be conducted in San Francisco and Bangalore, where adoption policies for alternative systems are already in place. We will start the case studies with field visits for the purpose of conducting qualitative interviews, followed by quantitative online surveys.

Key steps

-) We will research the role of distributive fairness in terms of the public acceptability of adoption-policies and the respective alternative systems
-) We will conduct case studies in San Francisco and Bangalore, cities that have policies that mandate the adoption of alternative systems for a part of the population
-) We will collect data through qualitative interviews and quantitative online surveys


Dr. Nadja Contzen Group leader, Environmental Health Psychology Tel. +41 58 765 6892 Send Mail