The world is again recognising water as the basis of all life. Water for all is an integrated worldview of human development and care for the environment, rather than a fragmented use of resources. The big challenge is in securing the basic water needs for the many who do not have access and for business to grow in responsibility as it increasingly realizes the value of water in sustaining production. The UN General Assembly declared 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation and 22 March as World Water Day. World Water Day 2013 highlights freshwater and draws attention to the benefits of cooperation in water management.
Father Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General on the Society of Jesus, through Healing a Broken World, has asked Jesuit people and institutions to understand our relationship with our environment as both ecological and sacred, calling for greater responsibility and reconciliation. In meetings with the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN overseen by Fr. Patxi Alvarez), water is identified as a specific focus for collaboration under the Ecology Network (Fr. Jose Ignacio Garcia). The six Jesuit Conferences, through the Social Apostolate are exploring how to move with such particular concerns at a global level. Fr. Jose Mesa (Secretariat for Basic Education) is seeking for a common program that could be offered globally for participation by high schools.
Fr. Jose Ignacio Garcia is coordinating discussions in the Ecology Network and experiences from the different regions are emerging. To increase awareness of the global water concerns, the following experiences are being shared across all regions:
- Commodification and privatization of water (especially US and Europe)
- Desertification and lack of basic water needs (notably in Africa)
- Flooding, extreme rainfall events (and climate change, Asia Pacific)
- Arsenic poisoning (South Asia)
- Transboundary issues, rights and access, water pollution and contamination, (Latin America and elsewhere)
Where is the action?
The United Nations has declared 2013 the Year of Water Cooperation. There are many opportunities for advocacy and awareness events:
- Post-Rio consultations, “World We Want 2015” and a Facebook account
- World Water Day (22 March)
- Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments, Lima, Peru (15-17 April)
- 2nd International Conference on Hydrology & Ground Water Expo, United States (26-27 August)
- World Water Week (1-6 September, with a major forum to be held in Stockholm)
- International Summit on Water Cooperation for inclusive growth in Pune, Maharashtra, India (15-16 November)
What can we do?
The challenge is for all to network and cooperate to form a worldview of human development and care for creation. With this, Jesuit people are encouraged to:
- Collaborate with others on water clean up, materials development for school activities and case studies in their area
- Support students’ efforts and youth involvement in responsible water use
- Share with Ecology and Jesuits in Communication any initiatives or materials developed on water cooperation
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Ecology and Jesuits in Communication
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