Council of Canadians Honorary Chairperson Maude Barlow, a world renowned water warrior and founder of the Blue Planet Project, spoke to a packed auditorium about the future of water as part of the Nobel Week Dialogue.
The event is an annual conference that is held in advance of Nobel Week. It brings together a select group of the world's leading scientists, policy makers and thinkers for a series of thought-provoking sessions and working groups. According to the Nobel Prize website, “with this event the Nobel Institutions aim to deepen the dialogue between the scientific community and the rest of society on issues connected with the Nobel Prize and of importance for the world.”
Maude Barlow, who is the recipient of the 2015 Right Livelihood Award, known as “the Alternative Nobel,” was invited to speak at this prestigious event about her lifelong work as a water activist.
In her speech, Maude recalled the decade-long struggle she and many other activists were a part of to have water and sanitation declared human rights.
“In 2010, the people of the world took an evolutionary step forward when the United Nations recognized water and sanitation as fundamental human rights,” she said. “That day, we collectively declared that it is not acceptable for someone to die or watch their child die because they cannot afford to buy clean water. Most importantly, we recognized that access to water and sanitation is an issue of justice, not charity.”
She cautioned that the world must think carefully about its approach to water. “We must challenge the current power structures and institutions that support unequal access to the planet’s dwindling water supplies,” she said. “Our goal must be affordable, clean, accessible public water for all, for everywhere, for all time.
Water, she says, is a key element that gives us all life. Because of this, we need new laws for its governance that recognize its importance to ecosystems, to all living species, to people and to the Earth.
She adds that water cannot be – as it often is now – a source of conflict. “Water has been, and can be again, a source of peace if we understand its lessons,” she stated. “If we truly listen, water could teach us how to live more lightly on Mother Earth and in peace and harmony with one another.”
Following her speech, Maude moderated a panel discussion titled “Activism – Don’t Talk, Act!” with Jan Eliasson, the Ambassador and Chair of the Governing Board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institution, Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Gary White, CEO and co-founder of water.org and WaterEquity.
Maude’s speech and the panel discussion can be viewed here and begins at the time of 38:40.
Congratulations to Maude for this incredible honour!