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September 21, 2010
2:59 PM

CONTACT: Council of Canadians

Dylan Penner, Media Officer,

Barlow says More Must Be Done to Meet MDG on Water

MONTREAL - September 21 - A former UN water advisor is warning that water and sanitation should be much higher on the core MDG priority list given they are essential to reaching the other goals.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and more than 140 leaders have now gathered in New York City for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit, which runs September 20-22.

The Millennium Development Goals include the goals of halving the proportion of people who cannot reach or afford safe drinking water and halving the number who do not have basic sanitation by 2015. Presently, over 900 million people lack access to drinking water and 2.6 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, "Without clean water, the other millennium development goals cannot be reached. Every eight seconds a child dies from lack of water or waterborne disease. Unsafe water and sanitation are the source of 85 percent of preventable diseases. Without access to water and sanitation, we cannot meet the millennium development goal of reducing child mortality."

Barlow, who has served as the senior adviser on water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, notes, "Some say that the goals on water are being met. But success cannot only be measured by the number of pipes built and the number of people who theoretically have more access. If people cannot afford this water because it is offered on a for-profit basis, then we cannot truly say that we are meeting that goal."

“The world must not accept that the goals for sanitation are not going to be met,” says Barlow. “We must demand political leadership on this critical issue which condemns so many to needless suffering and death.”

Barlow adds, "And too little attention is being given to the reality that groundwater is being pumped faster than it can be replenished. We are extracting and polluting our rivers and lakes to death. We must also protect source water and rebuild ecosystems to meet the MDG targets."

The Council of Canadians calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to recognize in his address to the UN General Assembly today the fundamental human right to water and sanitation. A United Nations covenant would clarify that it is a state's responsibility to provide sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water to all of its citizens.



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