On the occasion of World Water Day in March, an NGO briefing entitled “H2 Uh-O: The Rights and Wrongs of Water in Rio+20” focused on issues around fairness and sustainability with regard to water. During preliminary negotiations on the Rio+20 draft some countries are asking to replace the words “right to water” with “right to access to water”. But simple access to water is not enough – water must also be affordable, and people have a right to access and affordability. Some countries like Colombia have even spelled out the human right to water in their constitutions.

Nations which cooperate in regards to waters they share, as Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal do with their shared Senegal River, are models for others. Many NGOs are concerned that privatization of water may block distributive justice since the market tends to focus on economic profit rather than environmental protection and equitable use of resources. “If the wars of the twentieth century were fought over oil, the wars of this century will be fought over water.”  Ismail Serageldin, former vice-president of the World Bank

Anyone who solves the problem of water deserves not one Nobel Prize but two –
one for science and the other for peace.
John F. Kennedy


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