Water is human right, not a for-profit commodity, says Vatican council

Clean and potable water is a human right, not a for-profit commodity dependent on market logic, said the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in a recent document.

Unfortunately, “there persists an excessively commercial conception of water which runs the risk of mistaking it for just another kind of merchandise, and making investments for the sake of profit alone, without taking into account water’s worth” as a public good, it said.

“There is a risk of not seeing one’s brothers and sisters as human beings possessing the right to a dignified existence, but rather seeing them as simply customers,” which leads to making water and sanitation available only to those who can pay, it added.

The document, “Water, an Essential Element for Life,” is an update to previous documents of the same title by the council.

The update, which focused on effective solutions to the world’s water crisis, was presented at the Sixth World Water Forum being held March 12-17 in Marseille, France. The Vatican released a copy of the document March 12.

Representing the Vatican, members of the justice and peace council attended the forum along with leaders from government, private enterprises and local communities in an effort to study and develop just and sustainable policies and practices concerning the world’s water resources.

While the international community has recognized access to clean and potable water as a human right, about half of the world’s population still does not have guaranteed access to potable water, and more than a billion people have no access to proper sanitation, the document said.

The Vatican delegation said effective solutions were urgently needed and underlined that individual communities and nations could not solve the problems alone. Solutions required international commitment, cooperation and enforcement, it said. [More]