Brawn bag event in Geneva to promote best practices on insuring equal right to water and sanitation Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #3
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 18:09

In July,3 2012 in Geneva the Brown bag event was organized by French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, UNECE, Secretariat of Protocol on water and health for the participants of the joint meeting of the Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment and the Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management. The event was focused on equal right to water and sanitation and promotion of good practices developed in different countries, which were presented in the recent publications done at global and UNECE region levels. The audience for this event was the water authorities and experts from European region.

The Rio+20 Conference reaffirmed that access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is a prerequisite for poverty eradication and to protect human health. General progress at the global level in access to drinking water and sanitation hides great inequities, both geographical and social. For instance, access to improved water and sanitation solutions in rural areas in the pan-European region is 10 per cent lower than for urban areas. Similarly, the disabled or the sick, travellers, the homeless, people living in unsanitary housing or users of institutional facilities (hospitals, schools, prisons, refugee camps, etc.) often suffer from inequities in access. Moreover, the increasing cost to consumers of water and sanitation threatens the affordability of access to water and sanitation, not only in transition economies but also increasingly in European Union countries. Such inequities hamper the full realization of the human right to water and sanitation.

“No one left behind” Good practices to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation — the publication, prepared in the framework of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health under the leadership and thanks to the financing of France, highlights inequity problems in the pan-European region and showcases successful policy and practical measures that have been taken by Governments, water operators and civil society to redress these inequities.

Panellists Mr. Jacques Pellet, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNECE highlighted that the Protocol on Water and Health is unique international legal act promoting equitable access to water and sanitation. There were 3 presentations about the good practices to overcome the inequities of access in the pan-European region with focus on:

- reduction of geographical disparities in Ukraine made by Ms. Anna Tsvietkova, NGO Mama 86;

- keeping water and sanitation affordable for all in Belgium presented by Ms. Ingeborg Limbourg, Flemish Environment Agency, Belgium;

- ensuring access for vulnerable and marginalized groups made by Ms. Juana Sotomayor, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR based on the recent publication “On the Right Track” — new book of good practices in realising the human rights to water and sanitation, presented in March 2012 by the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation (see below “recent publications”).

Ms. Delphine Caamano, French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health presented the next steps from good practices to self-assessment to foster progress on ensuring the equitable access to water and sanitation at the national and local levels in European region. To develop self-assessment instrument and methodology of its application in pilot countries the expert group will be established based on experts nomination by countries. The first meeting of this expert group will be organized in the framework of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health under the leadership and with financial support of France in September 2012.