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On Right to Water, Green Economy and Right based approaches

to Sustainable Development

For a calendar of Rights of Nature/Mother Earth related events at the Earth Summit/Rio+20 visit Rio+20 Rights of Nature Calendar.

Date and Time: Friday, June 15th, 3:30‐5:00 pm
Location: RioCentro, Room T‐8
Organizer: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Organizing partners

Shiney Varghese – Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (main contact)
Linda Sheehan – Earth Law Center (USA)
Anil Naidoo– Council of Canadians (Canada)
David Boys – Public Services International (Switzerland)
Paul Quintos – IBON International, (Philippines)
Bernhard Frey – United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN NGLS)

Introduction

The planet is facing multiple environmental crises and many of them mediated through water. The escalating water challenges result in human communities without access to water for their basic livelihood needs and ecosystems and species that suffer destruction and extinction. Globalized industrial agri-food systems are a big part of the problem. An essential component of effective, sustainable water governance is right to water – right to water to meet the basic needs of people and to help ensure ecosystem sustenance locally. By contrast, our environmental laws permit a “race to the bottom” system that legalizes pollution and over-diversion. Legal recognition of rights of people, waterways, and species to water for life and well-being is necessary, to help guide new governance systems that encourage respectful use of water rather than a system that is based on commodification of nature, to ensure the security of current and future generations of people and species.

Right to Water: Green Economy or Right based approaches to sustainable development

Earth Law Center The planet is facing multiple environmental crises in climate, food, and biodiversity. The water challenges are escalating in the form of diversions that dry up rivers and aquifers, and continued polluting events that contaminate remaining fresh water sources. These activities result in human communities without clean water for their basic needs, and ecosystems and species that suffer destruction and extinction. Globalized industrial agri-food systems are a big part of the problem.

Existing treaties, laws, and policies are proving to be insufficient to stem the slow destruction of the water sources on which we depend, to the detriment of people and planet. An essential component of effective, sustainable water governance is right to water – specifically, right to water to meet the basic needs of people and to help ensure ecosystem sustenance locally. By contrast, our environmental laws permit a “race to the bottom” system that legalizes pollution and over-diversion. Legal recognition of rights of people, waterways, and species to water for life and well-being is necessary, to help guide new governance systems that encourage respectful use of water rather than a system that is based on commodification of nature. This is necessary for the security of current (many of who are already vulnerable to multiple crises) and future generations of people and species. In addition, social protection needs to become an essential component of any new proposals on sustainable development.

This panel will provide examine the green economy proposals being advanced to solve the environmental crisis, analyze the implications of it for water and then share on-the-ground examples of how a rights-based approach advances a sustainable water for present and future, even as it helps address multiple crises in environment.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy will examine UNCSD’s promotion of green economy and will present right based approach to food and water security that are especially relevant for vulnerable communities.

Earth Law Center will discuss the need to reflect in law waterways’ and species’ inherent rights to water, and will describe how this can achieve sustainable water practices in California, USA.

Council of Canadians/ IBON International will discuss how the U.N. Resolution on right to water must be protected and implemented in order to ensure water for people and brief the group about the campaign they led during the UN negotiations, titled Rights at risk.

International Rivers will share the challenges and successes in relation to the large hydropower projects in Brazil, and provide examples of sound water management practices that can be used in place of such projects to improve sustainability for people and planet.

Finally, Public Services International will elaborate on the call for social protection floor in the context of green economy and discuss the role of the human right to water and sanitation in advancing sound water supply management practices, and provide examples of successful public-public partnerships (eg: UNWOP) toward this goal.

The panel will then open up for a lively discussion of the role of a rights-based governance approach towards sustainable water practices, both now and in the future towards addressing multiple crises that are directly related to environmental crises.