UN Sustainable development goals must include the human right to water and sanitation

87 organizations from around the world including the European Water Movement have signed on to a letter that was sent to member states participating in the SDG process.

Dear Ambassador,

As we approach the 11th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, we, the undersigned representatives of civil society organizations and social movements, urge you to ensure the inclusion of a stand-alone goal and targets on the human right to water and sanitation.

As civil society organizations, many of us have carefully followed and engaged in the OWG process since March 2013. We are deeply disappointed to find that the reference to the human right to water and sanitation has been removed from the Working Document for the 5-9 May Session of Open Working Group.

With 780 million people lacking access to clean drinking water and 2 billion without adequate sanitation, the water and sanitation crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. Every year, 3.6 million people die from waterborne diseases, which can be avoided.

It is crucial that the SDG process guarantee the progressive realization of the human right to water and sanitation now and for future generations. Furthermore, given the central role of water within a number of different SDG areas, it is vital that the human right to water be seen as a central component of other focus areas including energy, food, gender and climate change.

We call upon all UN Member States to respect their legally binding obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the Human Right to Water and Sanitation as embodied in resolutions A/Res/64/292 and A/HRC/15/L.14 and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and all other relevant international laws, treaties, covenants and declarations. We call for a rights-based approach within the SDG process that includes clear targets ensuring non-discrimination, accountability and public participation in decision-making.