Madrid Dialogue on the Human Right to Water and Water Poverty

On October 24, Green Cross Spain organizes in Madrid the 8th Dialogue on the Global Water Crisis. The theme of this year’s edition is ‘Human Right to Water and Water Poverty’.

Green Cross has placed the fulfillment of basic human rights at the center of peace and sustainable development ever since its creation. The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, a right whose advancement and definition Green Cross had been promoting for fifteen years, was finally recognized at the United Nations in 2010. This was a major milestone in the advent of human rights. In today’s world, though, there are still 768 million people without what the UN calls access to “improved water sources”, that is a basic water point that adequately protects the source from outside contamination, particularly faecal matter.

Not having access to a safe water source has dramatic health consequences and hinders any development. An estimated 760,000 children die each year from preventable diarrheal diseases. Women and girls around the world have to walk an average 6 kilometers to fetch water instead of going to school or being able to dedicate their time to improving their living conditions.

Water poverty has become a crucial issue not only in developing countries. In other regions, such as Southern Europe, water poverty is causing growing concerns too. In Spain for example, there have been more than 500,000 advices for water cut-offs in 2013 due to the non-payment of water bills by people seriously affected by the economic crisis in the country. 300,000 of them have actually become effective, causing serious problems to the people concerned.

Green Cross Spain, in partnership with Sopra Spain, organizes this conference focusing on three aspects. The first panel will look at the global situation of hydrological stress, which often is the cause of civil conflicts. Marie-Laure Vercambre, Director of the Water for Life and Peace Programme at Green Cross International will explain how the international community can face this water poverty and what the organization has done and is doing to fully implement the right to water and sanitation around the world.

The second panel will focus on concrete experiences of four non-profit organizations running specific on-the-ground projects in developing countries. Red Cross Spain, Action against Hunger, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation and Ongawa will lead these discussions.

And the third panel will look at the complex Spanish situation with an open debate about different private and public management situations that have generated serious social problems in the country.

The conference is taking place in Madrid at the headquarters of the Fundación Pons (C/Serrano 138, Madrid) on October 24, 2014.

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