REDESCA urges to ensure the right to water and sanitation in the face of the climate emergency and the impact of certain business activities in the Americas

March 22, 2024

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Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights

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Washington D.C. - In commemoration of World Water Day, the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urgently calls for the adoption of effective and differentiated measures to ensure equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation in the region. This urgency is heightened by the escalating challenges posed by climate change and business activities, threatening the provision of sufficient, safe, and affordable water for all, especially for those groups in situations of vulnerability and/or historical discrimination.

Data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) indicate that, as of 2023, approximately a quarter of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean lacks access to potable water, and two-thirds are without adequate sanitation services. This crisis disproportionately affects low-income and highly vulnerable sectors and is exacerbated by climate change, which has heightened water scarcity and the risks associated with extreme weather events.

REDESCA expresses its concern about water scarcity resulting from the intensive exploitation of natural resources, pointing out the alarming prioritization of commercial water use over human consumption. This dynamic has resulted in the overexploitation and contamination of water sources, socio-environmental conflicts and a disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women and girls, peasant communities, among others.

The violation of the right to water and sanitation constitutes a serious threat to the realization of other human rights, including the rights to food, health, personal integrity, life, and a healthy environment. In response, REDESCA has integrated "A Hemispheric Agenda for ESCE rights" into its Work Plan 2024-2026, focusing on protecting and guaranteeing access to water, strengthening inclusive policies and promoting sustainable practices.

In light of this situation, REDESCA urges the States of the region to undertake immediate and specific actions to secure equitable access to water and sanitation rights. It is crucial to adopt sustainable water management practices and effective policies to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. Human rights must prevail over economic interests, prioritizing effective measures that address and reduce inequality in access to water, with special attention to vulnerable groups.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to strengthen the promotion and protection of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in the Americas, leading the Commission's efforts in this area.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. RD056/24

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