Climate Change and the Right to Water
Take yourself on a trip back in time. Go to Mar del Plata, Argentina, in the year 1977. A high profile international conference is taking place under the auspices of the United Nations, full of hope and burdened with lofty aims. In that year, only 20% of the world's rural population in developing countries had access to safe drinking water.
At the conference, the world is relatively united around the importance of providing safe drinking water to the world's population, not only for its own sake, but also because 80% of all common diseases known to the world are water borne, and improving access to safe water will significantly boost global health and economic productivity. As a result of the Mar Del Plata declaration, the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation decade is announced, which intends to provide safe water and sanitation for everyone by 1990.
Zipping through time, let us go to 1990. An incredible 1.2 billion people have been provided with drinking water and 770 million people have been provided with sanitation. These achievements are being celebrated, but it is also recognised that population growth is proceeding at such a rate that this has not had much effect on the number of people without drinking water or sanitation. The global coverage rate of water services for instance increased from 75% in 1980 to 85% in 1990. However, many of the services provided during this period have broken down or are breaking down. Researchers are in the process of demonstrating that connecting a tap is not the same as having a service: investing in the people who manage a service, collect funds and maintain systems is crucially important. Internationally, commitment is being made to provide 'some for all' rather than 'all for some'.
Let's try again. Go to 2000, to the Millennium Declaration. More than 147 countries have agreed to commit to halving the number of people without access to safe water and sanitation by 2015. Clearly, the goals being set are much more sober than they were in 1977. At least the machine is up and running again and water and sanitation services are being delivered. But by now, it is becoming clear that neither states nor donors are making much progress in actually reaching the poor. 2.4 billion people still do not have access to adequate sanitation, and 1.2 billion do not have access to safe drinking water. Where services are provided, it is the low hanging fruit that is prioritised: periurban areas and small towns where people are easily reached help to boost the statistics that donors and states collect about their own progress. Also, it is emerging that the water sector is highly corrupt, and that funds are locked into all manner of complex bureaucratic processes but do not flow down to the local level where they are needed.
What is needed is non-discrimination, transparency and accountability on public and donor spending, so that those for whom the funds are intended have a say about how money is being spent and can participate in the planning of projects which are intended for no one other than themselves.
By 2002, this process has started to move. The International Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has ruled that the right to life, which is a universal human right, includes the right to water. From this moment on, one country after another is officially recognising the right to water and takes steps to introduce the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, accountability and participation into national law. This is a huge step forward for civil society, as it is possible to push not only for pro-poor spending, but also to give the poor a voice in the shaping, monitoring and investigating of programmes developed on their behalf.
In 2009, a new problem is emerging. Climate change and widespread environmental destruction is unravelling the stability of the water cycle, resulting in regular droughts in some areas and excessive flooding in others. Plantation economies geared towards the export of water hungry crops to the rich west are claiming huge amounts of water for irrigation and polluting groundwater with pesticides. The security of access to water is being threatened from a new quarter, which is the fundamental way in which we interact with nature itself. Therefore, in the run up to Copenhagen, Both ENDs and its partners are lobbying for climate change to be included in the right to water. In every catchment area, enough water should be reserved to secure basic human needs, before the needs of the economy at large are satisfied, otherwise this would infringe on the basic human right to life. South Africa has already done this, and so has Indonesia. It is absolutely imperative that this concept of the basic needs reserve be written into the laws of all water scarce countries in order to protect the basic human right of human beings to water from being undermined from another direction.
For more information please contact our senior policy officer on the right to water and sanitation: Tobias Schmitz.
Photograph by: Hypergurl - Tanya
Read more about this subject
Press release / 5 December 2022
Groups react with dismay to FMO’s position statement on Financial Intermediaries, pointing to outstanding human rights and climate concerns
On October 13th 2022, FMO published the final version of its Position Statement on Impact and ESG for Financial Intermediaries (FI statement). As civil society groups which have engaged with FMO on this topic for more than four years, we are extremely disappointed with the result. In the statement, FMO does not show sufficient commitment to ensuring its investments into financial intermediaries – which represent the bank's largest investment sector* – do not violate human rights or contribute to environmental harms.
News / 1 December 2022
After a busy week filled with side-events, meetings, negotiations and covid, our colleagues Daan and Niels are back in the office in Utrecht. Together, they look back to their expereiences and results during the climate conference COP27 in Egypt.
News / 24 November 2022
At this year's UN Climate Conference COP27, Bhavya George, Climate Change coordinator of our partner organisation Keystone Foundation won one of the Gender Just Climate Solutions awards. Her project "Women Barefoot Ecologists", which also is supported by the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), won in the category "Transformational Solutions".
Event / 14 November 2022, 18:30 - 20:00
UNFCCC COP side event
Food systems account for 33% of GHG emissions, but receive only 3% of climate finance. Climate finance is urgently needed to fund the food systems solutions that can have real impacts and wide-ranging benefits in a diversity of contexts. How do we improve on current funding pathways?
Join this UNFCCC side event to find out more!
Event / 12 November 2022, 15:00 - 16:30
UNFCCC-COP side event
In this session hosted by NTFP-EP and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), we will discuss the crucial steps to be taken to make gender-just climate finance a reality.
News / 10 November 2022
In October 2022, 150 women from 14 African Countries gathered in Port Harcourt, Nigeria for the first African Women's Climate Assembly. The aim of this Assembly was to strengthen and unify women-led struggles against dirty extractives and false solutions to the climate crisis in West and Central Africa, and propose the real development solutions that support women's interests in a good and decent life and livelihoods in a time of climate crisis.
Publication / 7 November 2022
Publication / 4 November 2022
Publication / 4 November 2022
Publication / 4 November 2022
News / 4 November 2022
Climate action is urgently needed to slow down global warming. The effects of climate change are already showing themselves. Floods in Pakistan and closer to us, in the Netherlands, are causing loss of life and much emotional and economic damage, while local climate solutions are still largely being ignored. That's why Both ENDS is going to participate in COP27, the climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Press release / 3 November 2022
The Netherlands breaks major climate promise to end public financing for international fossil fuel projects
Today, a week before the international climate summit in Egypt, the Dutch Government has broken a major climate promise it made last year to end public financing for international fossil fuel projects. International and Dutch NGOs argue that the new policy published by the Dutch Government on restricting finance for fossil fuels has such significant loopholes, that it essentially means The Netherlands has reneged on its promise.
Analog forestry is a transformative approach to the ecological restoration of degraded lands. Natural forests are used as guides to create ecologically sustainable landscapes, which support the social and economical needs of local communities.
News / 26 October 2022
Update October 27th:
Today our friends have been released after five nights in detention. We welcome this great news and we are happy and relieved that Babacar Diouf and the others who were arrested will soon be back with their loved ones.
Nonetheless this was a very bad signal from Senegalese authorities and police and an indication of the growing restriction on civic space in Senegal. It is unacceptable that freedom of expression is restricted, people should not have to go to jail for peacefully expressing their opinion - especially when their livelihood is at stake.
Letter / 25 October 2022
Official Statement of Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development related to AIIB Statement of Anti Retaliation
The Mandalika International Street Circuit is a street circuit in the resort of Mandalika in Central Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara Province. The project, mainly intended to attract tourists, is largely financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
News / 24 October 2022
The decision of Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is good news for the energy transition in the Netherlands and beyond. Governments of countries that are party to this treaty can therefore shape the transition to sustainable energy without having to fear claims by Dutch-based businesses.
Letter / 19 October 2022
In May 2022, Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs and Minister Schreinemacher for International Trade and Development Cooperation announced that also The Netherlands will work towards implementing a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP). This means that within its Foreign Policy, the Netherlands will pay more attention to inclusivity in general and specifically to women's rights and gender equality, including LGBTIQ+. This feminist lens will be central to all aspects of foreign policy; security, trade, diplomacy and international cooperation.
To foster an inclusive process and acquire insights in what a Dutch FFP should look like, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened an internet consultation. Both ENDS welcomes the FFP and therefore gladly shares its input and suggestions.
The lion's share of public budgets for climate, agriculture and development still goes to conventional agroindustrial projects that contribute to the current climate, food and biodiversity crises. Both ENDS and our partners are calling for a transition to agroecological practices that are people- and environment-friendly.
Letter / 18 October 2022
140+ organisations call on the European Ministers, Commissioners and members of the European Parliament to adopt a strong EU regulation on deforestation-free products. As "trilogue negotiations" on this law begin, we ask you to support a law that lives up to the promises of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals and upholds the EU's commitments on climate, biodiversity and human rights.
Blog / 12 October 2022
The Dutch government and Dutch businesses spend a lot of money on food production in developing countries. But, according to Karin van Boxtel, policy officer at Both ENDS, far too little of that money finds its way to sustainable, nature-inclusive producers.