Jean-Benoit Charrin, executive director of the international public-interest development organisation WaterLex, spoke to the Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly Sub-Committee of Environment and Energy on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, about challenges in water governance as seen from the European perspective in the context of sustainable development and related legal frameworks.
The meeting looks forward to the 131st Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly meetings to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, 12 – 16 October 2014, as well as the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, South Korea, in April next year. Attendees of those meetings are expected to discuss a possible resolution on “Shaping a new system of water governance: Promoting parliamentarians’ action on water,” which could be considered for adoption in late March 2015 at the 132nd IPU Assembly in Hanoi, Vietnam. Such an initiative would tie in well with the mission of the WaterLex Legal Desk.
In his presentation, Charrin points out that in the pan-European region, 12 percent of the population — nearly 110 million people — lack access to safe drinking water. According to the World Health Organisation, 13,000 children under the age of 14 die every year in the region from water-related diarrhoea, mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Furthermore, Charrin notes, up to 90 percent of wastewater in developing countries flows untreated into rivers, lakes and highly productive coastal zones, threatening health, food security and access to safe drinking and bathing water.
As a result, an estimated 245,000 square kilometers of marine ecosystems are affected by hypoxia, with impacts fisheries, livelihoods and the food chain, according to the UN Environment Programme.
Jean-Benoit Charrin has been the executive director of the WaterLex International Secretariat since January 2011, overseeing strategy and operations. Before co-founding and committing full-time to WaterLex in early spring 2010, he worked as a consultant for international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He progressively specialized in the undertaking of country-specific water and sanitation legal and institutional sector assessments, as well as human-right-to-water compliance reviews. These missions led him to Haiti, Liberia, Benin, Bangladesh and Indonesia. He worked for the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Action against Hunger (ACF), Fastenopfer, Bread for All (BfA) and BothENDS. Before 2008, Charrin worked for the Mexican Permanent Mission in Geneva (2007), the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, and Geneva-based international faith-based NGOs (2005). He holds an LLM in international human rights law from the University of Essex (United Kingdom) and a Master’s degree in theology from the University of Fribourg.
WaterLex is an international public interest development organization and membership association based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks. It works with an alliance of interested parties to improve water-governance frameworks, bringing them in line with country obligations under international human rights law. The interested parties are individuals and groups working in government (diplomatic missions), academia (professors of law, researchers), bilateral cooperation (water management advisors), the judiciary (high/supreme courts judges), the UN system (UN-Water family members), and civil society (NGOs that work on water issues). WaterLex works in partnership with 13 universities to continuously enrich the content of the WaterLex Legal Database. The organisation is funded by grants and project financing from public agencies, foundations, private gifts, and in-kind contributions. Established in 2010, when the human right to water was recognised by the UN, the organisation has a secretariat in Geneva with nine staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official partner of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP GWS, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and UNECE, and a member of the board of the Swiss Water Partnership.