Sep 21, 2020

WEBINAR | Human rights and water security in the age of uncertainty

Ten years ago, the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council adopted Resolutions acknowledging that water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

Webinar summary report – download here

Today, the human rights to water and sanitation (HRWS) and their correlating obligations underpin the increasingly critical work to ensure a healthy environment and a stable climate as prerequisites for the full enjoyment of human rights. Conversely, a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, education, work, water and sanitation.

The UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility was hosting a high-level webinar (13 Oct) bringing together two UN experts – Dr Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on “the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation”, and Dr David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on “Human Rights and the Environment”. Their conversation was moderated by Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA and f. Special Rapporteur on the HRWS. The virtual session brings together actors involved in the realization of human rights during the past decade, including the two Special Rapporteurs, alongside others with stakes in water resources management and climate change adaptation across the globe.

Globally, the climate urgency is already having devastating effects on the realization of many human rights, with risks and impacts from extreme events disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and marginalized groups. State governments at all levels, development agencies, and other actors need to think differently about their responsibilities and ensuing responses by adapting water governance resources and management to meet this ‘new normal’. We all need to take the established and emerging human rights obligations seriously, to catalyse action and address the uncertainty that climate change is bringing us all.

Water security enhances the capacity to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development. This webinar will highlight the importance of rights-based water resources management to leave no one behind in mitigation and adaptation, taking stock of advances and lessons learnt during the 2010s. It will also address the mutually reinforcing interconnection between the human rights framework, the holistic nature of the SDG Agenda, and the Paris Agreement.

The webinar asked questions such as:

  • To what extent do the mandates of the two Special Rapporteurs overlap, and where are the gaps or obstacles to furthering the realization of the respective rights under their mandates?
  • What roles do different stakeholders play and how can understanding of the successes and challenges of using human rights in [court litigation and other] action on climate change be increased?

Webinar | Watch the recording here | Password: aK+FptV3


Dr Léo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation”
Dr David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment”.
Rio Hada, OHCHR
Tobias Schmitz, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health
Pamela White, Finnish Consulting Group
Antti Rautavaara, Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Dawda Jawara, UNICEF
Saraí Salazar Arredondo, Center of Environmental and Social Studies

Moderated by Catarina de Albuquerque, Sanitation and Water for All

The webinar was organised by UNDP–SIWI Water Governance Facility, Finnish Water Forum, and Sanitation and Water for All.