The Holy See is participating in the fourth World Water Forum, being held in Mexico City, Mexico from March 16 to 22. The forum, which meets every three years, is an initiative of the World Water Council, an organization that aims to raise public awareness to questions concerning water resources and to favour participation and dialogue among the many sectors concerned in order to influence political decisions and achieve sustainable development. In Mexico City, the Holy See will present a document updating an earlier text entitled "Water, an essential element for life," which was prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and presented at the third World Water Forum, held in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 2003. The original document started from the point that water plays a central and critical role in all aspects of life, and human development. It identified a human right to water, recognized the importance of water in religious traditions, and highlighted how both national governments and the international community must tackle the question of water in all its social, economic, political and environmental aspects. The updated document concentrates on the vital role of water in peace and security, recalling how many conflicts break out over the control of water resources and citing the examples of the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa, "which is intensifying ethnic tensions," and of the Middle East, "where the main problems with water are related to tensions among countries generated by water scarce environments." A later section of the document, entitled "a culture of water," warns that the action of wasting water in developed countries is morally unsustainable. "Citizens in some countries are used to taking advantage of a privileged situation without thinking to the consequences of their wasting water on the lives of their brothers and sisters in the rest of the world." The last two sections of the document are dedicated to the management of water resources and response to natural disasters. "Management decisions that impact the distribution of water," the text reads, "must also respond according to the criteria of justice. The human right to access to safe water and sanitation must be promoted in such a way that existing inequalities are reduced to the greater well-being of the least advantaged." As for natural disasters, the document recalls how they "are not solely caused by nature, but also by an inconsiderate use and consumption of the earth's resources," and suggests that poor countries, with the help of richer ones, "invest in mitigation measures to reduce the consequences of floods and droughts. ... But all such initiatives should be implemented with an active involvement of the local communities. They should be accurately informed of the impacts on the environment and on their lives of any infrastructure built with the aim of reducing vulnerability to natural disasters." "The human being is the centre of the concern expressed in this updated document," the text concludes. "The primary objective of all efforts must be the well-being of those people - men, women, children, families, communities - who live in the poorest parts of the world and suffer most from any scarcity or misuse of water resources." Source: VIS
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