Church network calls for universal access to water and sanitation

The World Council of Churches issues a statement in favour of water justice and the full realization of the human right to water.

World Council of Churches
Published: 7 years, 10 months ago (08/02/2013)
Updated: 2 years, 5 months ago (12/21/2018)

This News is a transcript of an article based on a Press release from the World Council of Churches that was published on Wash News International .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a statement"Statement: God, lead us to abundant life and peace through water justice", Ecumenical Water Network - EWN, World Council of Churches, 2013, (2-08-2013).calling on churches, governments and the United Nations to ensure universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene as part of  the post-2015 development agenda.

The Church is seen to have a vital role in advocating for the full realisation of the human right  to water and for water justice, especially for the poor and other marginalised groups.

Forty church leaders, theologians, academics and activists developed the statement at a strategic consultation in Berlin, Germany, organised by the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) from 10-12 June 2013.

The statement is strong in moralistic activism, lamenting how “we humans have treated God’s gift of water irresponsibly” and condemning practices that “turn water from being a gift of God into a mere commodity sold to the highest bidder”.

While the Church has always supported community water and sanitation projects, it did not undertake advocacy for water justice until the establishment of the EWN in 2005.

The EWN will host two workshops at WCC’s upcoming assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 30 October to 8 November 2013: Troubled Waters: Accompanying Communities in Conflict Situations (WS238) and Churches for Water and Human Rights: Challenges and Opportunities (WS239).

During their Berlin consultation, the EWN elected Gaim Kebreab of the Norwegian Church Aid and Veronica Flachier from the Latin American Council of Churches as the new co-chairs of the EWN’s international reference group, while Rev. Dr Bridget Ben-Naimah from the All Africa Conference of Churches stepped down after her term as interim co-chair.

Comment by Riccardo Petrella

With this statement, the World Council of Churches reinforces its position in support to the universal access to water and sanitation by advocating expressly for the human right to water.

Furthermore, in comparison to previous years, the WCC makes steady progress by clarifying its position concerning the management of water resources and water services opting in favor of public solutions:

“(….) the fundamental nature of water as a common good (…) ought to remain in public ownership and be controlled by our communities, for the benefit of all within the community, particularly the most vulnerable. Private ownership or management of water is inappropriate where our governments lack the capacity or the will to regulate private actors effectively or to assure that the human right to water and sanitation is realized”.

Indeed, nowadays, the problem is no longer so much the recognition of the human right to water, but rather the justiciability and the financial, economic and social (participatory) management system to make this collective and individual right a reality for all.

Sources :

« Church network calls for universal access to water and sanitation », WASH News International, 29-07-2013, (2-08-09).

« EWN consultation calls for universal access to water and sanitation », Press release, World Council of Churches, 18-07-2013 (2-08-2013).

Ecumenical Water Network -