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Barlow meets with the Pope’s representative in Canada to discuss our blue communities campaign

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and the Blue Planet Project’s Meera Karunananthan met with His Excellency Luigi Bonazzi, the Apostolic Nuncio, in Ottawa earlier today to discuss our blue communities project.


The Papal Nuncio is the Pope’s representative in Canada.


Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has spoken clearly in support of the human right to water on several occasions.


In February, the Pope stated, “All people have a right to safe drinking water. This is a basic human right and a central issue in today’s world. This is a problem that affects everyone and is a source of great suffering in our common home. It also cries out for practical solutions capable of surmounting the selfish concerns that prevent everyone from exercising this fundamental right. Water needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy.”


He added, “We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard. Every state is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water.”


And he has observed, “Respect for water is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights.  If we consider this right fundamental, we will be laying the foundations for the protection of other rights. But if we neglect this basic right, how will we be able to protect and defend other rights?”


Furthermore, in his June 2015 Encyclical Letter ‘Laudato Si’, the Pope wrote about his opposition to the privatization and commodification of water.

He noted, “Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and  universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”


And in March 2015, the Pope stated, “I encourage, therefore, the international community to make sure the planet’s water is adequately protected and no one is excluded or discriminated against [in the fair use of] the most essential element for life. The future of humanity depends on our ability to safeguard and share [clean water].”


Our blue community project very much reflects this outlook. A ‘blue community’ is a municipality, university, religious institution, union or other social grouping that recognizes water as a human right, opposes bottled water, and promotes publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.


In October 2016, Barlow presented a blue community certificate to the World Council of Churches at a ceremony in Geneva. The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches. The fellowship includes denominations collectively representing a Christian population of some 590 million people in nearly 150 countries in all regions of the world.


Barlow will also be speaking about our blue communities campaign at the Canadian Religious Conference meeting on June 6-8 in Toronto. As noted on their website, “Established in 1954, the Canadian Religious Conference brings together the leaders of 250 Catholic congregations of women and men religious in Canada.”

To find out more about our blue communities project, please click here.