Why we need to talk about shit

Today, about a billion people worldwide face the indignity of defecating in the open. The lack of clean and safe school toilets leads to higher dropout among girls once they reach puberty. Diarrhoeal diseases – a direct result of poor sanitation – claim more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. A taboo topic often shrouded in ignorance and silence, toilet sanitation begs for open discourse and social awareness in its global implications on health, education and safety. Jack Sim asks the provocative question: what would it take to mobilise our society and see social change in this sorely neglected issue, and what can we do about it? Widely known as Mr Toilet, Jack Sim broke the global taboo of toilet and sanitation by bringing the agenda to global media centre-stage. After attaining financial independence, he retired from business to devote the rest of his life to social work. In 1998 he founded the Restroom Association of Singapore and the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001, a global network and service platform for toilet associations to promote sound sanitation and public health policies. WTO declared November 19th as World Toilet Day which has now been adopted as Official UN World Toilet Day.

Watch Jack Sim explaining why we need to talk about shit >    

Human Right to Water and Sanitation, Rome 2017

Final Statement,  result of the Workshop ‘Human Right to Water: An interdisciplinary focus and contributions on the central role of public policies in water and sanitation management’ held on February 23rd and 24th, 2017 at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City and organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences with Cátedra del Diálogo y la Cultura del Encuentro (Chair of Dialogue and Culture of Encounter). The Final Statement was signed by His Holiness Pope Francis, the organizers and participants as detailed at the bottom of the Statement.

In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis presents the main issues related to the human right to water, including the lack of access to drinking water, sanitation, and continued inequality of quality and availability of resources. The encyclical also refers to the repercussions of droughts and floods on food production, the prevalence of pollution-related diseases and warns us against a “green economy” that is often green not because it is ecological, but because it treats nature as a commodity.

The socio-environmental crisis that we face arises from environmentally irresponsible human action that has resulted in spreading socio-environmental injustice, increasing inequality and poverty, and a lack of adequate food supply. Throughout the world, the lack of access to safe water and the pollution of water sources seriously and increasingly affects quality of life, particularly women, the poorest, and the most vulnerable. In addition, thousands of people put their lives at risk by demanding the right to water or by actively defending natural resources.

Production models focused on fossil fuels are directly responsible for global warming. Climate change, like water scarcity, is a consequence of human action. The degradation of the environment has increased exponentially and today the world faces the consequences of economic models of production that “privatise the profits and socialise the losses”. In regions such as the Amazon, deforestation and pollution of water sources have accelerated in recent decades as a result of the development of mining, production and developing infrastructure, leading to potential conflicts varying in nature and scale.

Many cultures, societies and religions of the world recognise water as a spiritual and material principle of life, thus finding common ground. They also recognise that everything in the universe is connected and that the care for the common good requires solutions based on cooperation, solidarity and a culture of dialogue. On this basis, new paradigms must be built in which humanity does not claim unlimited and disrespectful dominion over nature, but rather exercises a collective responsibility.

Those most affected by the scarcity of water and a lack of basic sanitation must be involved in the developments towards universal access. Everyone is called to participate actively in caring for our common home, each with their own experiences, initiatives and capabilities. Households, neighbourhoods, cities, regions and countries, with small and large responses and actions, are called to guarantee universal access to safe water and sanitation, and to exercise the responsibility to our fellow human beings and to the generations to come.

Ensuring the human right to safe water is essential for the exercise of other rights such as food, health and welfare. Human rights provide a normative basis and constitute a source of authority and legitimacy for realising universal and fair access to this resource. The inclusion of the right to clean water and sanitation in international agreements, instruments and declarations is indispensable for the development of human life. For this reason, the recognition of access to clean water and sanitation as a fundamental human right is indisputable.

Although the challenge is great, we rely on solidarity and collective sensitivity, fruits of the dialogue of philosophies, knowledge, spiritualties and epistemologies. There are currently many valuable projects and initiatives working towards the care of our common home and we have a better understanding of the problem, not primarily as an issue of scarcity but as an inadequate management of the resource. Today we know that the use of fossil fuels in energy generation contributes to climate change but we have inherited a significant body of scientific knowledge, as well as clean energy technologies that can help mitigate global warming. Today, we know what we have to do: develop another paradigm of development, centred on the care of our common home, centred on solidarity, equality and justice in the use and management of water.

Many of today’s economic and production systems, ways of life, and consumption behaviours cause environmental degradation. We need an education that fosters a cultural change around the recognition of the other and the defence of water and ecosystems; we urge a cultural change in which science and technology can make fundamental contributions to the preservation of water and its universal use. More effective legal tools are needed to protect common assets and a human rights perspective can ensure that water supply and sanitation do not fall under the influence of powerful groups, but are safeguarded by binding legal obligation.

We need governments that have the will and political force to generate the necessary changes, following the moral imperative of the Sustainable Development Goals approved after Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations, in particular points 6 and 14. This requires a collective commitment to the creation of global, state and local public policies that incorporate real and effective participation in the full exercise of citizenship and the concern for the common good. Today it is urgent to reach a consensus on models of governance that allow for the formation of an authentic culture of water. Governments must also ensure the safety and lives of all those who work for the right to water and the preservation of nature.

The recognition of rights must be met by a universal responsibility for action. This implies changes in lifestyle, production and consumption, as well as the development of renewable and clean energy. The provision of safe water in necessary quantities and the collection of wastewater and its disposal by environmentally adequate means, contribute to the care of our common home and people’s dignity, whilst also contributing to the development of responsible citizenship amongst present and future generations.

Each of us, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians, labourers for humanity, must be aware that the threat of climate change demands concrete and urgent measures. In the encyclical, Pope Francis proposes the development of an integral ecology for the care of our common home, inviting a collective and joint mobilisation for the defence of universal access to safe water by governments, institutions, the private sector, workers and societies around the world. Uniting with a collaborative commitment and collective action is necessary to demonstrate the urgency of the change of the instrumental rationality towards a true intergenerational solidarity. We call for the implementation of an integral ecology, incorporating environmental, economic, social and cultural dimensions, for fostering a culture of encounter, which acknowledges the human right to water and sanitation. Science, culture, politics and technology all have a part to play in achieving societies of justice, solidarity and equality, committed to the care for our common home.

Signatories:

Papa Francisco –  Card. Claudio Hummes –  Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo – José Luis Lingeri –  Luis Liberman – Gabriela Sacco

Jerónimo Ainchil – Alejandra Alberdi – H. Dogan Altinbilek – Cristian Asinelli – Juan Ayala – Adrián Bernal –  Asit Biswas – Emilia Bocanegra – Rutgerd Boelens – Valeria Bubas – Rebeca Céspedes – Keshav Chandra – Michael Cohen – Ismael Cortazzo – Elena Cristofori –  Emilio Custodio – Magalid Cutina – Leandro Del Moral – Gabriel Eckstein – Emanuele Fantini – María Feliciana Fernández García –  Ana Ferreira – Alfredo Ferro – Héctor Floriani – Enrique García – Alberto Garrido – Peter Gleick – Adrián González – Quentin Grafton – Joyeeta Gupta – Pedro Hughes – Giulia Lanzarini – Marcelo Lorelli –  José Luis Inglese – José Paulino Martínez Cabrera –  Ugo Mattei – Hugo Maturana – David Molden – Alberto Monfrini – Daniel Nolasco – Virginia Oliver – Rosa Pavanelli – Ivo Poletto – Pedro Romero – Carlos Salamanca – Farhana Sultana – Danya Tavela – Cecilia Tortajada – Jorge Triana Soto – Jerry van den Berge – Gianni Vattimo – Virgilio Viana – Alessia Villanucci – Martin Von Hildebrand – Aaron Wolf – Ana Zagari – Christian Ferrando – Christiane Torloni – José Romero – Laureano Quiroga

Final declaration in Spanish

 

Abstract Right2Water presentation in Vatican

Uniting diversity to build Europe’s “Right2Water” movement

From April 2012 to September 2013 the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Right2Water” ran and collected 1.9 Million signatures across Europe. With that result it became the first ever successful ECI. It allowed the organisers to put their issue on the European political agenda. “Right2Water” proposed to implement the human right to water and sanitation in European legislation. The European Commission had to respond to “Right2Water”. The official response was as a cold shower to the organisers: The Commission stated that many of the suggestions were already part of EU policy and that it would not change or amend any existing legislation.

The paper looks into how the ECI became successful from a point of awareness raising and a social movement perspective. The trade unions in public services started the ECI to challenge European neo-liberal policies. “Right2Water” stated that “Water is a human right and a public good, not a commodity!”

The ECI was supported by over 250 organisations and thousands of people that campaigned all over Europe. Water services are essential to all people and must be provided without discrimination that cannot be left to the market. This is the point that “Right2Water” tried to make in stating that water services cannot be liberalised. “Right2Water” gave a new momentum to social movements that were active on water issues and extended the focus of social movements that did not pay attention to water until then. It united a huge diversity of organisations.

 

Tracking progress towards Universal Health Coverage

WHO’s Universal Health Coverage data portal shows where countries need to improve access to services, and where they need to improve information.

The portal features the latest data on access to health services globally and in each of WHO’s 194 Member States, along with information about equity of access. Next year WHO will add data on the impact that paying for health services has on household finances.