On Sunday 1st April, at the first opportunity, the European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) on water as a human right was submitted to the European Commission.
It is now up to the European Commission to validate the proposal. Once this is done the official registration of signatures can start and from that date there is one year to collect the million signatures to get “implementation of the human right to water and sanitation” on the European political agenda.
Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU’s Deputy General Secretary and member of the Citizens’ Committee stated at the press conference for this ECI: “Water is a Human Right. Public services such as water and sanitation should not be liberalised and dominated by commercial and corporate interests”.
As one of the first ECIs submitted, there was a lot of media attention in newspapers, radio and TV, for example in Belgium by VRT and in Germany by ZDF. All media coverage can be seen at www.right2water.eu . The campaign was presented in March, both at the World Water Forum and the Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille. It was particularly well received because the human right to water and sanitation is at the core of discussions in the framework of the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development and in European water policy. Support for this ECI keeps growing. We can now count on the backing of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and on the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).
As EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates states: “Water is indispensable to life. It runs through our cities, our bodies, our valleys, sustaining us and our environment. Water is therefore not a commodity like any other; it is a fundamental human right. The European Environmental Bureau is pleased to support this campaign to ensure that water is seen as a public good and that protecting our water environment prevails over commercial interests. “
This campaign is a means of getting a commitment to the human right to water and sanitation. It is a tool to change the mind-set in the European Commission from a market-based approach with the focus on competition to a rights-based approach with the focus on public service. It aims to achieve universal (global) access to water and sanitation and to safeguard the limited public water resources for future generations.