Join us as we celebrate the launch of a brand new public-private partnership that will harness U.S. strengths to provide centralized access to America’s water knowledge. During a lively 90-minute presentation, followed by a reception, hear about how the United States is uniting and mobilizing its resources to address water challenges around the globe, especially in the developing world. U.S. Water Partnership supporters such as The Coca-Cola Company, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, USAID, Global Water Challenge, Philadelphia Water Commission, Clean Water America Alliance, World Resources Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Department of State, World Vision, University of Colorado, Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Global Threats Fund, and U.S. Department of Agriculture will give presentations about innovative technologies and governing approaches that are saving lives, greening cities, protecting eco-systems and getting more crop per drop.
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On March 3, the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) convened a hearing on “Realizing the Right to Safe Water and Sanitation.”
This hearing explored the impact of recent UN resolutions declaring safe drinking water and sanitation a universal human right. It also examined the role of US foreign policy with respect to water issues, the prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the implementation of the Water for the Poor Act and the challenges of safe water and sanitation that people endure each day.
GWC staff attended the hearing and compiled notes for those who were unable to attend.
- Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
- Representative James P. McGovern (MA-3)
- Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation
- Katherine Bliss, Director, Project on Global Water Policy, Global Health Policy Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service
- John Oldfield, Managing Director, WASH Advocacy Initiative
- Dr. Aaron Salzberg, Lead for Water and Head of Interagency Working Group on Water, U.S. Department of State
- Rev. William Schulz, President and CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Discussion followed the points below:
- The right to water is cross-sectoral and impacts people all over the world. It is plays a significant role in education, health and women’s rights and is central to food and national security. Water disputes often turn into violent, territorial disputes and jeopardize the human rights of all involved parties.
- Women and children are disproportionately affected by lack of access to water. Integration of the water and food sectors can help secure food supply and protect basic human rights. Strategic investment and public-private partnerships can help to ensure access to water and to improve its storage and management. While countries of greatest need are also the countries of greatest opportunity, investments must continue to be strategic to make a meaningful difference at a high rate of return. The U.S. needs to look at opportunity—status of the current government (will they cooperate with the U.S. and other countries, will they be transparent, etc.) and whether or not there are other NGOs there to work with—in order to achieve the most success.
- Multi-lateral negotiations along basins (Nile River Basin, Himalayas, etc.) can prevent future conflict over water.
- There is a right to universal access to water and sanitation, and we must focus on the most vulnerable and most difficult to reach avoid discrimination. The U.S. needs to fully integrate WASH and human rights to reach the most disadvantaged.
- For the last 20 years, every country that has approved a new constitution has recognized water as a fundamental right. Despite the preventable nature of waterborne diseases, 10% of the global health burden is linked to these illnesses. WASH interventions are working; political will can help raise awareness of the need and scale up existing interventions.
- In order to accelerate the solution, the U.S. and others must preserve international funding, continue to appropriate funds for the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, increase the effectiveness of WASH programming and catalyze more support from private institutions, faith-based groups and grassroots constituents.
- We must prioritize strategic funding for those countries with the greatest need of access to WASH rather than following geopolitical considerations for funding.