Date of Meeting: 11 Jul 2016

Meeting Organizer: Permanent Mission of Palau to the United Nations

ISJC Staff Present: Luke Cozens

Reporter: Luke Cozens

Which SDG does this topic cover? 6

Type of meeting: Side Event on the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development  

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Opening Statement

  • Water and sanitation are not mere commodities, neither can they be considered purely a need or a charity, they are a right.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals are interdependent – we must leave no one behind.


  • Palau is in a state of emergency because of drought.
  • The Human Right to water is made explicit in the preamble [to the Sustainable Development Goals.]
  • Water is not only an essential it is one of the most essential elements of life itself. 60-70% of our body weight is made up of water and a human being will use 48 million gallons of water over their lifetime. It is the basis of life and without life all the other SDGs are insignificant.
  • Water becomes a security issue.

Special Rapporteur for Human Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation

  • Affordability is very important. People in poverty need to be included by the way services are provided.
    • Water should not and need not be an economic burden on the poorest.
  • If we are to leave no one behind all development stakeholders will need to cooperate and funders will have to recognize the plans and will of receiving states.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

  • Private water utilities create unaffordable pricing.
  • There is a lack of free, informed, and prior consent of indigenous communities when water supplies are accessed.
  • In Mexico the Supreme Court has ruled that the right to water is violated if a person has access to less than 100 litres a day.
  • Oversight of utilities should be placed in the hands of the communities.
  • Marginalized communities are disproportionally effected. The most effected are “poor, marginalized, people of colour”
  • Rising sea waters contaminate fresh water aquifers.
  • We need a human rights based approach.

Fordham University

  • Sustainable development cannot be primarily about economic growth or profit, it must be about liberation.
  • Economic value does not work for water – it tends to be monopolies, it is non-exchangeable and there are a variety of external factors.
  • There is no one size fits all solution or approach.
  • Priority should be given to moral manifestos on water.

Blue Planet Project

  • We should take a moment to celebrate the inclusion of the right to water in the post-2030 development text.
  • A rights-based vision for water is very different to a commodity-based vision.
  • The outcome of our neo-liberal economic model is a process of accumulation by dispossession.
  • 3 recommendations:
    • Reject commodification
    • Create an enabling environment for public financing: including global tax justice and debt relief.
    • Invest in water use management

Moderator (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs)

  • The strong participation of civil society was what made the SDGs so good.

From the Floor

  • Grassroots organising is of particular importance.
  • There is a problem with acidic/alkaline waters.
  • There is a need for mapping at all levels, most importantly at a national level.
  • SDG 7.a refers to technologies used in accessing fossil fuels, this would include processes like fracking.
  • We need to stop buying bottled water!
  • There needs to be a change in mindset that it is not acceptable to make money at any cost.
  • We need to develop capacity for disaster preparedness and work within interconnected, complex situations.
  • There is a need for a new legal framework around water.
  • Water is a gendered issue.


  • There is a lack of representation/ an interlocutor on water. There is a need for an inter-governmental platform.

Fordham University

  • It is highly complex to navigate all the issues.
  • We have to deal with the fact that water is treated as an economic good.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

  • The impacts of water issues are not gender neutral.

Special Rapporteur for Human Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation

  • Monitoring of the SDGs and the indicators is an important challenge.
  • We are at risk of proposing privatization as the main way to reach the SDGs.


  • Drink tap water!
  • There needs to be a link between the Universal Periodic Review and the human right to water.

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • The Salvation Army could consider contribution to moral manifestos on water.
  • Partnership with civil society (of which The Salvation Army is considered part) is constantly emphasized. The Salvation Army could consider how to continue and maintain its participation in the SDGs.
  • The Salvation Army may wish to consider how water justice is included in its procurement procedure (e.g. reduce purchases of bottled water.)

Web links for more information

WebCast of the meeting:

Tags: United Nations, SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation