The EWN of the World Council of Churches (WCC) engaged in the World Water Day celebrations and High Level Forum, organised by the UN and the Netherlands government, from March 20 to 22 in The Hague, Netherlands.
In a side event on “Living Water: Towards a Water-Secure World” at the forum, along with other religious leaders, EWN coordinator Dinesh Suna spoke about the role of faith-based networks in promoting water justice.
“Water is the cradle of life, an expression of God’s grace in perpetuity for the whole creation. This is why it should be preserved and shared for the benefit of the wider creation,” said Suna, quoting from the WCC statement on “water for life.”
In his presentation, Suna brought attention to the fact that more than 780 million people are living without adequate access to safe drinking water, along with 2.5 billion people without access to proper sanitation facilities.
Despite human rights to water and sanitation being recognised by the UN and the Millennium Development Goals, he said, this reality continues to exist.
Issues related to inequality often serve as impediments to realisation of the human right to water and sanitation, he noted. “Therefore the EWN encourages the churches on World Water Day to address discrimination based on casteism, racism, ethnic identity, HIV and AIDS and other factors that perpetrate inequality,” said Suna.
These efforts are particularly relevant since the UN has declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation, he added.
One of the ways in which the EWN attempts to raise awareness of water issues around World Water Day is through its Lenten initiative, the Seven Weeks for Water.
This initiative has launched online theological and biblical reflections promoting water justice in local communities. More than a thousand people have signed up to receive these reflections, around the world.
Among other stakeholders of the EWN celebrating World Water Day, the Council of Churches in the Netherlands on March 22 affirmed a statement on the “right to water and sanitation” issued by the WCC Central Committee in 2011 and pledged to promote water justice among their congregation members.