“Each day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of persons consume polluted water.”
Stating that these statistics provided by the United Nations are troubling and cannot leave us indifferent, Pope Francis decried this reality while addressing participants in the seminar in the Vatican on “the Human Right to Water” this afternoon. The conference, Feb. 23-24, 2017, was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and took place in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV.
“These facts are serious; we have to halt and reverse this situation. It is not too late, but it is urgent to realize the need and essential value of water for the good of mankind.”
With their devoting attention to the human right to water and exploring the need for suitable public policies in this regard, Francis thanked those gathered for pooling their knowledge and resources in order to respond to “this urgent need” of today’s men and women.
“The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing.”
All people, he highlighted, have a right to safe drinking water, for it is a basic human right.
“It also cries out for practical solutions capable of surmounting the selfish concerns that prevent everyone from exercising this fundamental right.”
Water, he said, needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy, noting that every state is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water.
Similarly, non-state actors, he said, “are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right.
Stressing that The right to water is essential for the survival of persons and decisive for the future of humanity,
“High priority needs to be given to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation,” Francis said, noting that forming consciences is a demanding task, which requires conviction and dedication.
Respect for water, he stressed, is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights.
“If we consider this right fundamental, we will be laying the foundations for the protection of other rights. But if we neglect this basic right, how will we be able to protect and defend other rights?”
Francis urged those present and all relevant parties to unite their voices together in this single cause, reminding: “God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all. ”
“With the ‘little’ we have,” Francis encouraged, “we will be helping to make our common home a more livable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity.
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