In Istanbul, the fifth World Water Forum has ended amid controversy.
Despite demands from campaigners and several countries, its closing statement fails to recognise access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a “basic human right.” After days of debate in Turkey, the final text of the global gathering of government ministers, scientists and activists has left some disappointed. Sara Ahmed of the Gender and Water Alliance told delegates: “It is the role of governments to protect their people, to protect the most at risk – the most vulnerable, to support the poor and those who are unable to pay for the services of safe water and sanitation….for example, providing a basic quantity of water free for each person.” The declaration does pledge efforts to improve the situation, setting out recommendations for action. Providing clean drinking water to the poor is one of the planet’s biggest development challenges. Almost one billion people worldwide have no access to safe supplies. Some 2.6 billion have no access to sanitation. Climate change was also on the agenda of the event, dubbed a water industry “trade show” by some critics. Its closing statement, coinciding with World Water Day, called for measures to address floods and drought.