Women, children, indigenous people, refugees and migrants – these are the different groups of people that have been presented by WaterLex, OHCHR and IDB this week at Stockholm World Water Week, platforming the topic of “Leaving No One Behind” through our sessions on Ecosystem Balance and Human Rights.
Our session on women and children (co-hosts GIZ and Caritas) highlighted how song, dance, drama and art can be used as a wonderful way to create awareness and culture change in rural communities, strengthening the connection between conservation and water management to improve lives. Bringing experiences from Latin America, Africa, and South Asia, we also highlighted the need to break taboos about menstrual hygiene for women. Former rapporteur on human rights to water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, brought her global perspective to stress the importance of recognising the role of participation and inclusion in community engagement.
In the second session on indigenous peoples (co-hosts SIWI, UNDP-CapNet, Water Governance Facility and ILO) we introduced indigenous leaders from Guatemala and Canada, including a young girl’s perspective. The discrimination for indigenous people was evidenced through heart-felt personal stories of ancestral connection with nature, inherited knowledge about water management and care for the land.
And lastly, with the stories about refugees and migrants (co-hosts UNHCR, IOM and Geneva Water Hub), the conditions of living in the camps in South Sudan and Bangladesh, and the consideration of nature-based solutions, brought home the plight of people living in long term temporary accommodation. While access to water and sanitation is a primary need, the value of providing long term solutions that are environmentally sustainable is incredibly difficult in these often water scarce areas, with massively crowded conditions. Despite this, there are some innovative solutions emerging to consider waste water recycling for energy and other uses.
Rio Hada from OHCHR closed by summarising the take-aways from all three sessions. He stressed the importance of meaningful participation designed around traditional values; the value of taking time to properly understand the problems and challenges, and the benefit of making sure that women and children are at the centre of community engagement to create more sustainable outcomes.