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Water: the most fundamental right

Water: the most fundamental right

By Angel Simon

Water is an essential public service because it makes effective a human right, the right to sufficient, healthy, accessible and affordable water. The scope goes beyond its own content: water is the indispensable step for the assurance of many other human rights such as food, health and development in a balanced environment. None can be fully exercised if there is no prior guarantee of the right to water.

Within this framework, the teams of the private operators that manage water resources in any region of the world have a fundamental responsibility. As providers of a basic service for the population, we must act with the utmost diligence and innovate in response to changing environmental and social challenges. We also materialize it by safeguarding the possibilities of future generations to continue enjoying it, in addition to promoting measures and collaborating with Public Administrations and social organizations to guarantee that no one sees their right to water violated.

I can speak knowingly about the challenge of ensuring access to a rare commodity like water. The equation is complicated by growing demand and pressure from the agricultural sector (the trinomial water, energy and food), industry and, eventually, tourism and recreational water consumption, which make the need for reuse urgent and the focus on the circular economy.

We have a central responsibility in providing our communities with this basic public service. This often involves going beyond pure service management and assuming other roles: continuously innovating to improve the use of the resource in all sectors, developing circular solutions and, above all, raising awareness among all stakeholders so that they understand that guaranteeing the The right to water in a sustainable way supposes an implication on the part of all in its care, directly or indirectly. How many people are aware that 2,700 liters of water have been used to produce the shirt you wear, or 132 liters to produce their morning coffee?

The scale of the challenges we face requires responsible public debate. Most likely, the water deficit problem will tend to worsen as a result of climate change and will entail facing pending challenges, such as reuse. All this in a context in which we must advance in the construction of more resilient cities in the face of this change.

This is a difficult but stimulating panorama that requires experience, unavoidable investments and a great management capacity together with a prepared and diverse team. I would venture to say that this last factor is, in current circumstances, the most decisive. If there is something that characterizes our sector, it is the complexity of management in techniques and technologies, processes and infrastructures, knowledge, planning and impact, service and digitization, and the relationship with all the actors involved: Public Administrations, citizens, companies, irrigators, suppliers, etc.
Water plays a fundamental role in the SDGs: it stars in Goal number 6 (Clean water and sanitation). But it is also present in others, such as the one that refers to food or the one related to health and well-being. Goal 17, which fosters partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society is key.

Excellent management must appeal to creativity when tackling new solutions, responsibility and, above all, the human capacity to invent and innovate. This is where the problem can become an opportunity. Water professionals constitute day by day, often without being aware of it, the basis of the guarantee of a fundamental human right. Fix a valve, analyze a sample, attend and anticipate the requirements of the citizen ... each and every one of the daily tasks should be a factor of motivation and pride for those who work in this sector. What better motivation than to help make one of fundamental human rights a reality?

Center for Solidarity Collaborations


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