Joint Statement: Taking Action to End Water and Sanitation Inequalities


Joint Statement: End water and sanitation inequalities in the future development agenda

water_pump_cote_ivoireThe Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, UNICEF, UN Women, WaterAid and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. New York, 21 February 2013.

“Today, the Government of Finland, UNICEF, UN Women, WaterAid and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation call on the international community to place equality, human rights and sustainability as the foundation of the post-2015 development priorities.

waterSpecial Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation – Introduction

Having access to safe drinking water and sanitation is central to living a life in dignity and upholding human rights. Yet billions of people still do not enjoy these fundamental rights.

The rights to water and sanitation require that these are available, accessible, safe, acceptable and affordable for all without discrimination. These elements are clearly interrelated. While access to water may be guaranteed in theory, in reality, if it is too expensive, people do not have access. Women will not use sanitation facilities which are not maintained or are not sex segregated. Having a tap which delivers unsafe water does not improve one’s access. Human rights demand a holistic understanding of access to water and sanitation.

The rights to water and sanitation further require an explicit focus on the most disadvantaged and marginalized, as well as an emphasis on participation, empowerment, accountability and transparency. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation was established to examine these crucial issues and provide recommendations to Governments, to the United Nations and other stakeholders. Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque was appointed in September 2008, and began her work on the mandate in November 2008.

mdgsThe Millennium Development Goals have brought much needed attention to neglected issues, such as open defecation, maternal and child mortality, gender equality, and the need for sustainable access to water. The international community has learned from this process and must now aim higher.

On the eve of the consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, we believe that the world must achieve and build on the MDGs, but must also craft even more ambitious goals. The goals must create incentives for change – a change that will reach every single woman, man, boy and girl.

The future development agenda must aim at tackling the most persistent of all challenges: inequalities in access to essential services to realise people’s rights. Crucially, among these essential services, it must aim for every person to have equal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Special attention should be given to women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of these services.

Progress must mean progress for all. We must have a world that is committed to ending the unnecessary suffering of billions of people who continue to live without sanitation or safe drinking water. We must have a world that recognizes and responds to the millions and millions who for too long have remained hidden within aggregate statistics that mask the reality of life without safe drinking-water and sanitation: children, women, people with disabilities and those living in remote areas and urban slums.

The Post-2015 Agenda must not move forward without clear objectives towards the elimination of discrimination and inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

We urge the governments of the world to aim to deliver on this promise so that all people everywhere will have the future they deserve.”


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