The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dylan Penner, Media Officer,

Barlow says More Must Be Done to Meet MDG on Water


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

"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

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada's leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

Office: (613) 233-4487, ext. 249