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UN Declares Water and Sanitation a Human Right
Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared today, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.
The text of the resolution expresses deep concern that an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.
The link between climate change and biodiversity has long been established. Although throughout Earth’s history the climate has always changed with ecosystems and species coming and going, rapid climate change affects ecosystems and species ability to adapt and so biodiversity loss increases.
From a human perspective, the rapid climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss, risks human security e.g. a major change and loss in the food chain upon which we depend, water sources may change, recede or disappear, medicines and other resources we rely on may be harder to obtain as the plants they are derived from may disappear, climate refugees, wars, poverty, environmental catastrophes, etc.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, described as a “Living Legend” by the US Library of Congress, is a world-renowned oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer. In the early 1990s she was the Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the US. In 2009 she won the prestigious TED prize. As part of the prize, she was able to share a wish, which captured some major concerns about dwindling ocean biodiversity and its importance to all life on earth:
Smokey Mountain is a very large rubbish dump in Manila, Philippines. Consisting of over two million tonnes of waste, it has operated for more than 40 years and is known for decomposing at such high temperatures that it will catch fire, a fact from which the location derives its name. Indeed, fires at Smokey Mountain have caused many deaths.
Smokey Mountain has a large squatter community, and it is estimated that 30,000 people live near the site, and make their living from picking through the rubbish at Smokey Mountain. Life expectancy is low.
According to a UN-Habitat report, 40% of Filipinos live in abject poverty. That’s more than 30 million people; almost half the population of the UK.
For further information and photos by Hartmut Schwarzbach the award winning photographer -
Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 15 million children under 18 have been orphaned as a result of AIDS. Around 11.6 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. In countries badly affected by the epidemic it is estimated that 20 percent of children under 17 are orphans – most of whom have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Even with the expansion of antiretroviral treatment access, it is estimated that by 2015, the number of orphaned children will still be overwhelmingly high.
There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Some 60 percent of the world’s chronically hungry people are women and girls. This is because women often have unequal access to resources, education and income, and because they participate less in decision-making.