Thu, 30/09/2004

“I am here today to declare that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” announced Mikhail Gorbachev, Chair of Green Cross International, at the opening of the World Urban Forum, accusing the world’s governments of failing to live up to the development pledges made in the Millennium Declaration exactly four years ago. In the last four years, 20 million children have died from preventable water-borne diseases, and hundreds of millions of people continue to live with the daily drudgery and squalor associated with the lack of water and sanitation. Yet, today, there is little to indicate that we will not face the same situation four years from now.
“The people of the world need to wake up, take responsibility, and play their part in the great human mission enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals (1). We should be acting with the same sense of urgency as we would if it were our own children going thirsty,” insisted Gorbachev.
In answer to this desperate need for global solidarity and action, Green Cross is today launching a Citizens Campaign calling for a Global Treaty on the Right to Water. This campaign will give people all over the world an opportunity to become part of the solution, to stand up and declare that they have also had enough of broken promises, of living in a world where half the people live in dehumanising conditions without clean drinking water and sanitation. The Global Treaty on the Right to Water would be an international legal instrument committing governments, including local governments, to prioritise access to Water for Life for All as an absolute priority, and would give people whose essential human right to water is denied the means of seeking justice.
Green Cross will present this Citizens Campaign for a Global Treaty on the Right to Water, signed by millions of individuals from around the world, to the Heads of State Summit which will review the five-year progress of the Millennium Development Goals in 2005.
Today, Mikhail Gorbachev and UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka also signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which their two organisations will jointly promote a transformation in dealing with the world water crisis by restoring human values and a rights-based approach to the core of decision-making. Green Cross and UN-HABITAT agree to work together to demonstrate, through projects in cities and towns around the world, that honouring the Right to Water for Life is the key to breaking the current deadlock and bringing water to the poor and vulnerable.
Gorbachev asked participants at the World Urban Forum to imagine what it would be like if the one billion inhabitants of the “rich” world woke up to find their water supply cut-off. Such an intolerable and unimaginable scenario is reality for billions of people every day. Calling for a new Global Glasnost – openness – to combat the desperate poverty, mounting instability and violence, and environmental destruction we are facing, he stressed that no human being, regardless where they are living can ignore the challenges that the new millennium has thrown at our feet.
“A different world is possible. However, for me the answer is not an end to globalization, but for it to focus on people, not profit, and be responsible towards the future of our planet. I encourage and invite all of you to become Ambassadors for this global citizens initiative in your countries, your cities, your communities, your organizations. The adoption and the implementation of this Global Treaty on the Right to Water will be solid proof that a new Global Glasnost for the future of our planet is possible, and that we do care enough to make a difference.”