Blue Planet Project calls for explicit recognition of right to water in UN development agenda

Meera Karunananthan at UN, May 2014
Karunananthan speaks at the UN, May 2014

The Blue Planet Project is opposed to the marginalization of the right to water and sanitation in the proposed political declaration for the United Nation's Post-2015 Development Agenda. It wants the right to be made explicit and realized in the Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The New York-based Inter Press Service (IPS) reports, "Meera Karunananthan, international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project, told IPS that with more than 600 NGOs worldwide urging member states to revise the proposed political declaration, it is clear that water remains a very critical issue for billions of people around the world. 'Any development agenda is contingent upon the availability of freshwater resources, and as the world battles an increasingly severe crisis in freshwater scarcity, the competition for access is already causing conflicts around the world', she said."

The Blue Planet Project helped organize a letter to UN member states that was signed by 620 non-governmental organizations. It says, "Placing the human right to water and sanitation in the Declaration gives it needed political recognition and prominence. It ensures that this human right will not be ignored or undetermined in the critical Post-2015 Development Agenda." IPS notes, "The NGO coalition includes WaterAid, Food and Water Watch, Council of Canadians, Global Water Institute, Earth Law Alliance, Indigenous Rights Centre, Right 2 Water, Church World Service, Mining Working Group, End Water Poverty and Blue Planet Project."

The article adds, "[The Post-2015 Development Agenda] must be proactive and safeguard water for the environment and the essential needs of people by explicitly recognising the human right to water and sanitation, [Karunananthan] said." The United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation on July 28, 2010, almost five years ago now. "'If we are to avoid the mistakes of the past which led to the staggering failure of the Millennium Development Goals to meet its targets regarding sanitation, then it is important for the SDGs to be firmly rooted in a human rights-based framework', she added."

At the United Nations General Assembly last month, Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow stated, "For the post -2015 development agenda to reach its objective of being just, people-centred and sustainable, the goals must prioritize - for present and future generations – the human right to water for health, life, food and culture over other demands on water resources, especially industrial consumption. The goal must promote a hierarchy of water use the prioritizes basic human needs, local consumption, and healthy ecosystems, setting a zero target on freshwater extraction beyond sustainable supply and protecting and restoring aquifers and watersheds."

In terms of timelines, IPS says, "A draft of the document is anticipated to be released by the end of this month. ...The development agenda, along with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, is expected to be adopted at a summit meeting of world leaders Sept. 25-27 in New York."

Karunananthan will be at the United Nations this May 17-24 to continue her advocacy on this issue. This follows her interventions at the UN on this issue in May, June and July 2014 and in March of this year.

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