Millions of our fellow citizens live without the most basic requirement of life. Where is the moral outrage? As CIWEM observes World Water Day, 22nd March 2013, fellow water professionals are challenged to tackle the injustices of global water and sanitation provision.

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March, to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate the better and more sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first World Water Day in 1993.

In 2013, World Water Day is dedicated to the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the challenges of managing water fairly and equitably in the light of increasing demand and the need to get water to the millions who have no water, or without instant access to it.

“To my mind, there appears to be a lack of moral outrage that millions of our fellow citizens live without the most basic requirement of life,” says D N Thomas, in the first of a series of articles published in The Environment, CIWEM’s monthly magazine.

“The focus on poverty – rather than injustice – fails to capture the labyrinthine reasons why individuals cannot access safe water and decent sanitation, and underplays the richness and ingenuity that suffuses the daily lives of those who have to seek alternatives sources when denied access to affordable and safe water,” says Thomas.

Water is essential to all of life, from fulfilment of basic human needs to socio-economic development. We need it for food, for industry, for health and to achieve high ecological status. Water is a shared and precious resource for which demand is likely to increase as the population grows. Climate change, urbanisation, consumerism and pollution threaten the availability of fresh water, prompting the need for urgent international cooperation and action for water resilience.

CIWEM Executive Director, Nick Reeves OBE, says: “With a global population of seven billion, and counting, and remembering that millions of people are still without water, I urge everyone to think about the water they take for granted and to commit to being less wasteful. Water is precious and is a basic human right. Let us celebrate it, become water-wise, and do all we can to support clean and wholesome water for all.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org

Further information and resources for World Water Day can be found at http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/home/en/

Further information about the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation can be found online at http://www.unwater.org/watercooperation2013.html

“Water Rights Are Human Rights,” by D N Thomas, appears in the April 2013 issue of The Environment, as the first in new series of articles published in CIWEM’s re-titled, new-look magazine out this week.

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