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World Water Day

Just under thirty years ago, the UN elevated it to a theme of global importance, establishing in 1992 the World Water Day, included in the guidelines of Agenda 21, the result of the Rio conference. In 2010, the United Nations symbolically raised the bar, recognizing "the right to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights". A way not to evade the problem and not to delegate it to those who live it, now, in the first instance, in a dramatic way. And there are many of them. The data of the eighth edition of the World Water Forum, which was held in Brasilia, tell us that this is a tragedy of enormous proportions: more than 840 million people around the world, or one person in nine, do not have access to safe water, and 2.3 billion, or one person in three, do not have access to toilets.

"Leaving no one behind" is therefore the theme of World Water Day 2019: a key point of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and Objective 6, which aims to ensure universal access to water. The objective of Sustainable Development (SDG 6) is to guarantee everyone, by 2030, access to water and sustainable management of the resource. In other words, access to drinking water must be "universal", i.e. no one should be "behind", as the slogan of the 2019 edition of World Water Day states. Four years after the adoption of the Agenda, the UN Progress Report on the implementation of Objective 6 highlights the delay in meeting the targets set and denounces the risk that no State will be able to guarantee universal access to drinking water by 2030. The right to water should ensure that everyone, without discrimination, has sufficient and safe access to drinking water for personal and domestic use. Despite its recognition by the international community, the right to water remains, however, for the time being only a declaration of intent, not legally binding and - also for this reason - with limited effectiveness. A right that is denied, in short, also because of environmental degradation, climate change, the incessant exploitation of territories to secure natural resources. The link between water scarcity, food security and social stability is the basis of a growing migratory movement, estimated at between 150 and 200 million people in 2050. To date, man consumes 4,600 cubic kilometers of water per year, of which 70% for agriculture, 20% for industry and 10% for families. Global water demand has increased and continues to grow at a rate of 1% per year. According to experts, such a demand could trigger conflicts. What can be done to reverse the trend? Actions are planned to reduce stress on rivers, lakes and groundwater. Solutions range from conserving wetlands to increasing urban green spaces. Agricultural practices, such as the use of rainwater and crop rotation, are particularly important. This is the context of the event organized by the Italian Committee for the World Water Contract (CICMA) in Milan, which aims to explore the theme of World Water Day with particular reference to the role that cities can play in the impact of climate change and population movements, the challenge of how to ensure access to water for all and basic services as universal human rights.

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