Water for the World Resolution Introduced in House

On December 6, 2007 Representative Jan Shakowsky (D-IL) introduced the Water for the World Resolution (H.CON.RES 266) which defines access to water as a universal human right and suggests that federal funding not be applied to the privatization of water resources. It also promotes environmental concerns of sustainable and unpolluted water. The resolution has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means, and Financial Services. AFJN applauds Ms. Shakowsky’s move to safeguard one of life’s basic necessities to the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who currently lack access to safe drinking water.

In conjunction with Food and Water Watch, as well as several other DC-based NGO’s, AFJN has signed on to an NGO letter encouraging all Representatives to vote in favor of the Water for the World Resolution.

For the full text of House Resolution 266,

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. CON. RES. 266

Expressing the sense of the Congress with regard to the world’s freshwater resources.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 6, 2007

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means and Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of the Congress with regard to the world’s freshwater resources.

Whereas the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development established March 22nd as World Water Day to promote the international observance of water as a human right;

Whereas available freshwater represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the world’s total water stock;

Whereas global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth;

Whereas 31 countries currently face water shortages with another 17 likely to be added to this list by 2025;

Whereas more than 1,000,000,000 people already lack adequate access to safe drinking water; 2,500,000,000 people have no access to proper sanitation and more than 5,000,000 people, mostly children, die each year from water-related diseases;

Whereas the United Nations Millennium Development Goals call for reducing by one-half the number of those without safe drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015;

Whereas international trade agreements threaten sustainable and local management of water;

Whereas the poorest pay the highest price to access water;

Whereas civil society often have little say in water policy priorities;

Whereas the people of the United States have often expressed their compassionate desire to assist those in most need;

Whereas international financial institutions, institutions that receive significant U.S. funds, focus on private sector management of water that has been deemed a failure in providing access to the poor;

Whereas the Water for the Poor Act of 2005 calls on the United States Congress to significantly increase and prioritize water provision in United States international programs;

Whereas countries around the world have ratified international human rights agreements and enacted national constitutional provisions and laws enshrining the human right to water;

Whereas member States acting in human rights institutions of the United Nations have affirmed the human right to water calling upon all governments to take steps to ensure that a sufficient amount of good quality, affordable water be made available for all within a reasonable distance from a person’s home;

Whereas the United Nations Human Development Report of 2007 calls on all governments to recognize the human right to water, prioritize and fund water and sanitation in national budgets, provide international assistance for water projects and develop a strong global plan of action; and

Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts increased difficulty in improving access to safe drinking water and additional costs to the water services sector from changing water levels and contamination: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) asserts that water management priorities should reflect the goals of safeguarding and sustaining water resources;

(2) affirms water as a public trust and global public good that should not be treated as a private commodity where this would limit or deny public access to freshwater resources;

(3) affirms that the United States Congress firmly commits itself to meet the Millennium Development Goals, especially as they pertain to universal, sustainable access to safe and affordable water;

(4) affirms that access to international loans and debt reduction programs should not be conditioned on implementing increased cost recovery policies when those policies would result in significantly increased water rates that reduce access to safe drinking water and sanitation;

(5) asserts that the United States Executive Directors of international financial institutions should not approve loans that require increased cost recovery, or water privatization or public-private partnerships that would result in significant increases in consumer water fees or in other ways restrict affordable access to water;

(6) asserts that Federal policies should ensure that in the United States direct and indirect sources of water pollution, including factories, refineries, commercial agriculture, and wastewater treatment plants, are adequately regulated and those responsible held accountable for the pollution they cause;

(7) deems that Federal funding not be conditioned on the consideration of public/private partnerships or other forms of privatization that would restrict affordable access to water;

(8) upholds the principle that governments should engage all members of society, including local civil society organizations, citizen associations, environmental groups, indigenous peoples, farmers, women, workers, and others, in direct and meaningful participation in overseeing decisions about the conservation, distribution, use, and management of water in their communities, localities, and regions;

(9) recommends that international, regional, and bilateral trade agreements should not include conditions related to the provision of water for human use that would result in reduced access to water;

(10) recognizes the need to fully fund the Water for the Poor Act of 2007 to ensure that all individuals, especially those in most need, have equitable access to safe and affordable water; and

(11) recognizes the human right to water as fundamental for life and health, and sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of all other human rights

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