December 10th, 2013

1.8 million Europeans Demand the Right to Water and Sanitation

Today on Human Rights Day, the European Water Movement welcomes the submission of 1.8 million signatures to the European Commission, demanding it to “implement the human right to water and sanitation”.

‘Right2water’ is the first successful European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). The ECI is a tool which can serve to put an issue on the European agenda, by collecting over 1 million signatures from over seven different Member States.

According to the World Health Organization, 780 million people still lack access to drinking water, including in Europe. Globally over 2 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. The European Environmental Agency stated in 2012 that more than 50% of the rural population in 10 EU countries have no access to improved water or sanitation. This has a direct impact on their health and it is a violation of their human rights.  

This ECI is a demand for Europe to commit to the human right to water and sanitation. It is a clear signal from citizens asking the European Commission to change its mind-set from a market-based approach with a focus on competition to a rights-based approach with a focus on participative public service. It asks for the aim to achieve universal and global access to water and sanitation and to safeguard our water resources for future generations.

“Today, on Human Rights Day, we think this is a big step towards bringing the realisation of the right to water and sanitation closer to all the people whose rights are not fulfilled yet, as well as a big step in defence of those who see their rights threatened by corporate interests and austerity measures. We expect the European Commission to answer on how and what it will do to achieve these demands in the next three months.” Said Gabriella Zanzanaini of Food & Water Europe.

Contact: Gabriella Zanzanaini, [email protected], +32 488 409 662

European Water Movement:

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network of movements, social organizations, local committees and unions whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right, an essential element for all living beings. We are part of the global water justice movement. We are united to fight against privatisation and commodification of this vital good, and to construct a public and communal management of water, founded on the democratic participation of citizens and of workers.


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Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment.