In late June 2012 in Rio de Janero, Brazil, over one hundred world leaders will attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to address some of the most urgent social, economic and environmental global issues. At the forefront are water and sanitation rights, given the vital role the that water security plays in the overall health and prosperity of the entire world.
Prepartory talks for the conference have led to the creation of a document to stem from Rio+20, but the issue of water and sanitation rights being recognized within the language as a fundamental human right has become an issue of contention. These rights have already been recognized by international law as a protected human right.
“I call on all States to maintain their support to this fundamental human right and its explicit inclusion in the Rio+20 outcome document,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. “It is clear that a commitment to water and sanitation without the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation is insufficient to achieve the future we all want.”
The conference will run from June 20-22, 2012, with many critical issues to be discussed. The maintenance of fresh water supplies for drinking, agriculture and sanitation has become a source of urgency in many nations, with natural reserves drying up from drought or spoiled by pollution and destructive industrial development. Creating a global consciousness around sustaining fresh water supplies is necessary for the present and future health of the planet.