Issues

Human Rights

In 2010 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 64/292 that explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all. In 2015 the UNGA recognized sanitation as a distinct human right. We now speak of the human rights to water and sanitation.

Interactive Dialogue on the Right to Water and Sanitation
Ensuring access to water and sanitation as human rights constitute an important step towards making it a reality for everyone. It means that:
  • Access to safe water and basic sanitation is a legal entitlement, rather than a commodity or service
  • provided on a charitable basis;
  • Achieving basic and improved levels of access should be accelerated;
  • The “least served” are better targeted and therefore inequalities decreased;
  • Communities and vulnerable groups will be empowered to take part in decision-making processes;
  • Progress of nations in realizing the right to water and sanitation is monitored by United Nations  to hold governments accountable.

Universal access to sanitation is, “not only fundamental for human dignity and privacy, but is one of the principal mechanisms for protecting the quality” of water resources. Read more >

Participation 

Participation is a key element in realizing the human rights to water and sanitation. It requires that people have access to (transparent) information about water and sanitation services, that they can participate in decision making as well as in operation and maintenance of these services. SDG 6.A calls for expansion of international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies. It shows that the realization of SDG 6 is not just a matter for governments, utilities or experts alone. It can only be achieved by cooperation, involving all stakeholders from local to global level and a meaningful participation of all of them. SDG 6.B calls for support for and strengthening of the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management. EuSAIN stresses the importance of “worker participation”. After all, it’s the workers that have to do the job in providing and ensuring sustainable water and sanitation services. Moreover, knowledge and expertise of local environment, barriers and social and economic situations are within the workers. Participation of local communities should not restricted to the users (or “consumers”) of water and sanitation services but also include participation of workers as knowledgeable and committed stakeholders. Read more >

“Right2Water”

In 2013 the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) called “Right2Water” collected close to 1.9 million signatures. This ECI demanded the European Commission to implement the human right to water and sanitation in European legislation. The campaign was organised by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and supported by a large number of NGOs and water activists in Europe.

The initiative aimed to shift the focus of the European Commission from their market orientation to a rights based and people oriented approach in water policy and ensure access to good quality and affordable water and sanitation in Europe. It also asked to European Union to do a bigger effort to achieve universal (global) access to water and sanitation. (Right2Water ).

The Right2Water campaign put itself in the ongoing struggle of water justice and took a stance against profit driven water companies with the slogan “water is a public good; not a commodity!” and urged the EC that water services in Europe should not be liberalised. Read more >

Gender

Millions of women around the world continue to experience discrimination due to unequal access to land, property and housing. Furthermore, the economic and social discrimination that women face results in fewer and poorer life choices for women.

Women and girls are more affected than most men and boys by issues of water quantity and quality and access to toilets. From childbirth to education to domestic responsibilities to dignity and safety, access to water, potable water and sanitation, and the ability to properly manage personal hygiene have very real impacts on women’s lives around the world. Securing better access to water for their multiple uses, adequate sanitation, and the resources required for personal and domestic hygiene are essential for enabling women and girls to devote more time to activities such as education and income generation. Read more > 

Urbanization

More than one half of the world population lives now in urban areas, and virtually all countries of the world are becoming increasingly urbanized. This is a global phenomenon that has nonetheless very different expressions across regions and development levels: richer countries and those of Latin America and the Caribbean have already a large proportion of their population residing in urban areas, whereas Africa and Asia, still mostly rural, will urbanize faster than other regions over the coming decades. These trends are changing the landscape of human settlement, with significant implications for living conditions, the environment and development in different parts of the world.

The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014. Asia, despite its lower level of urbanization, is home to 53 per cent of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe with 14 per cent and Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 per cent. Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda. Read more >