On Sunday 28 August, 2016, the WaterLex team met with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation Mr. Léo Heller, to discuss potential future support that WaterLex would provide to the work of the Special Rapporteur.

Following the meeting, WaterLex attended the event “Equitable access to water and sanitation: sustainable growth for all“, where Mr. Heller gave a short presentation on the affordability criterion of the human right to water and sanitation. According to him, affordability shouldn’t simply be defined as a percentage of household income, but it should rather mean that the cost doesn’t impact negatively on the realisation on the human rights related to water. He then stated that, in his opinion, subsidies are the best mechanisms to ensure that the criterion of affordable access to water is respected.

Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, at the equitable access to water and sanitation event at WWW 2016

UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, at the equitable access to water and sanitation event at WWW 2016.

Before the panel discussion, the organisers of the event presented the UNECE Protocol on Water And Health to the to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the equitable access score-card (developed with the support of WaterLex), which is an analytical tool designed to help Governments and other stakeholders to establish a baseline measure of the equity of access to water and sanitation, track progress made and prompt discussions on further actions that need to be taken.

The UNECE/WHO Equitable access score-card

The UNECE/WHO Equitable Access Score-card

Daniela Bordeianu, head of the NGO Solidarity Water for Europe in Moldova, then addressed the key outcomes and actions resulting from the equitable access self-assessment that was undertaken in Moldova, following the methodology of the score-card. She noted that the main issue in Moldova was the affordability of water and sanitation services. Daniela had taken part in the “Water governance and human rights” training that WaterLex organised in Geneva on 1 July 2016, where she had also highlighted the issue.

The other panelists also made very interesting presentations, revolving around access to water and sanitation in schools, in healthcare facilities and in rural areas.

After the presentations, WaterLex Director General Amanda Loeffen asked in which way the findings from the self-assessments could be integrated into a sustainable policy framework, to which Oliver Schmoll (WHO) replied that the score-card triggers discussions within and between sectors, thus accelerating policy changes. Moreover, Francesca Bernardini (UNECE) underlined the difference between the non-binding SDGs and the Protocol on water and health, which is binding, requiring countries to set targets, monitor changes, and ultimately adapt their policies.


Please also follow the WaterLex World Water Week 2016 updates online:

Swiss Water Partnership Page

For more information:

Lorraine Schilling
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: l.schilling (at) waterlex.org

About WaterLex:

WaterLex is an international public interest development organization 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, with the Sustainable Development Goals (especially SDG 6, water for all) in mind. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and Swiss Water Partnership.