On Sunday, 2 August, United Nations Member States unanimously agreed on the final text that will be adopted by Heads of State at the UN Summit to adopt the Post 2015 Development Agenda in late September. The Post 2015 Development Agenda will shape official development policy for the next 15 years. The Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 6 on universal access to water and sanitation.
This recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in Post2015 Development Agenda is the result of unrelenting efforts by civil society groups over the past two and a half years during the Open Working Group and Intergovernmental negotiation processes, including a global petition signed by 621 organizations worldwide to name this human right in the document. This call was also carried forward by key Member States who championed the cause within the intergovernmental discussions.
The explicit naming of the human right to water and sanitation is critical to framing and interpreting Goal 6 on water and sanitation. Moreover, it is a vital step towards empowering peoples who have been denied their rightful access to essential services and freshwater supplies while providing a tool to challenge corporations that continue to abuse the planet’s dwindling water resources.
Despite this important reaffirmation of the human right to water and sanitation, we remain deeply concerned about some elements of the broader agenda. Specifically in relation to the realization of the human right to water and sanitation through sustainable development initiatives, we are troubled by the lack of clarity regarding the role of the private sector and the call in SDG 7 to expand “modern” energy. Investments in “modern energy” through this agenda would threaten global efforts to stop the spread of hydraulic fracturing and big dam development projects that have been detrimental to watersheds.
Moreover, the Agenda’s overemphasis on economic growth throughout the document is incompatible with the social and environmental pillars of sustainable development, and the failure to initiate stronger corporate accountability within a global context of proliferating trade and investment treaties remains troubling.
The explicit naming of the human right to water and sanitation in the Declaration of the Post2015 Development Agenda gives a strong entry point to ensure that the communities fighting for water justice are at the forefront of agendasetting and sustainable development efforts.
Source: Press release: of the NGO Mining Working Group
The NGO Mining Working Group is a coalition of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that, in partnership with our members and affected local communities, advocates at and through the United Nations for human and environmental rights as relates to extractive industries. For more information, please see the websites of the Mining Working Group and Blue Planet Project.