Madrid Water Dialogue: Water poverty is becoming a global issue

On 24 October 2014 Green Cross Spain in partnership with Sopra Spain, organized the 8th Dialogue on the Global Water Crisis in Madrid. The theme of the conference this year was “Human Right on Water and Water Poverty”. The discussions focused on three main aspects: the global situation of hydrological stress, the concrete experiences of four national organizations running on-the-ground projects and the Spanish situation with a debate on the public and private water management issues.

The following main conclusions have been adopted:

Although the UN recognized the access to water and sanitation as a Human Right in 2010, only few improvements have been made since. Some 800 million people are still deprived of water and 2 billion do not have access to sanitation. Water Poverty has now become a major global issue that does not only concern developing countries, but the developed world as well. Spain for example is directly affected and counted 250.000 water cut-offs over the last year.

The conference participants agreed on the necessity to establish a Public Normative regulating water supply and sanitation. This new organization should ensure that the Right to Water is respected in accordance with the UN resolution and should conduct a critical assessment of the water supply facilities.

The critical situation in Spain was highlighted. Water management in this country is ruled by open market logic and responds to private interests creating inequalities. The supply of water must be uniformed and meet strict ethic and qualitative criteria. It seems necessary to establish a Regulatory Office or State Agency in order to coordinate, collect data about and ensure the implementation of the Right to Water at a national level. Thus, it would be possible to control the prices and the quality of water as well as to avoid the cut-offs.

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