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Barlow to present World Council of Churches with blue community certificate, Oct. 25

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow will be in Geneva to present a blue community certificate to the World Council of Churches (WCC) on October 25.

The WCC notes, “Maude Barlow will deliver the Keynote address, award the WCC a ‘blue community certificate’ and inaugurate tap water-based public water fountains at the Ecumenical Centre.” The programme will also feature the General Secretary of the WCC Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, voices from Swiss Reformed churches, and “a special song on water with children’s enactment”.

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.

In February 2011, the WCC Central Committee “issued a statement strongly welcoming the recognition of water and sanitation as a human right by the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. …Following [UN recognition of the right to water and sanitation], the WCC Central Committee [urged] its member churches to continue the advocacy work affirming the right to water as the right to life. At the national level, the Central Committee encouraged governments to continue their engagement but to take further steps in order ‘to incorporate the right to water and sanitation into national legislation and policies’.”

A ‘blue community’ is a municipality that adopts a framework that recognizes water as a human right, opposes the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events, and promotes publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services. In March 2011, Burnaby became the first blue community in Canada. Bern became the first international blue community in September 2013.

Blue communities can also be religious groupings, universities, First Nations, or unions. In November 2013, the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirchgemeinde Bern-Johannes Church and the University of Bern became the first church and university-based blue communities. In January 2015, Tsal’alh, St’át’imc Territory became the first Indigenous blue community. And in November 2015, the 34,000 member Swiss public service workers union VPOD became the first union to become a blue community. The 200,000-member Swiss trade union UNIA also became a blue community in September 2016.

For more on the Blue Planet Project’s Blue Communities Project, please click here.