Pope: World Water Day urges defense of water access

In a message to mark World Water Day, Pope Francis said the misery of those who lack water challenges us to value this indispensable good and fundamental human right.

World Water Day is commemorated annually on March 22 as a way of concentrating efforts to resolve the water crisis that afflicts people, often the poorest, around the world.

Pope Francis marked the day on Friday with a message to the director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, José Graziano da Silva.

“Water is an essential asset for the equilibrium of ecosystems and human survival, and it must be managed and cared for so that it is not polluted or lost,” he said.

The pope noted how aridity and droughts are spreading to new regions, leading to a lack of potable water for more and more people.

“Access to this good is a fundamental human right,” he stressed.

The theme for the 2019 World Water Day is “Leaving no one behind”.

“Leaving no one behind”, Pope Francis said, involves both maintaining water structures and “investing in the future, educating new generations for the use and care of water.”

The Holy Father said younger generations need “to value and defend” access to water, saying efforts should begin with raising awareness among those who suffer the consequences of climate change.

He invited the international community to provide financing for long-term water projects in places where it is lacking.

These efforts, he said, will help overcome “the vision of turning water into a mere commodity, exclusively regulated by market forces.”

“The underprivileged of the earth challenge us to remedy the lack of water in their countries,” the pope said. “They also challenge us, from their misery and limits, to recognize the value that this indispensable good deserves for the development of all peoples.”

Pope Francis ended with a quotation from St. Francis of Assisi: “May ‘water, which is very useful, humble, precious, and chaste’ serve to sustain and benefit us and future generations.”

By Devin Watkins/Vatican News

Photo, ANSA: A young woman carries a jug of water.