Costa Rica: March 22: World Water Day

Published on Mar 21, 2024

Water for Peace: A Call to Conscience and Action in the 21st Century.

March 22, 2024, marks a pivotal date on our global calendar: World Water Day. Under the motto promoted by the United Nations, "Water for Peace," this day not only reminds us of the crucial importance of water for life on our planet, but also calls us to reflect on how this vital resource can be both a source of conflict and a pathway to peace.

"Water for Peace" means to address the essential interconnectedness between water and global stability. It emphasizes that equitable and sustainable management of water resources can prevent conflicts, as well as promote international cooperation and strengthen resilience in the face of challenges such as scarcity, pollution, and climate change.

It is essential to recognize that water is much more than a natural resource; it is the very foundation of life on Earth. However, paradoxically, it can also be a source of disputes and conflicts. Competition for access and control of water has historically been a cause of tensions between communities, regions, and even countries. Therefore, World Water Day urges us to understand the relevance of managing this resource equitably and sustainably to promote peace and community stability.

Access to clean water is enshrined as a fundamental human right. In Costa Rica, article 50 of the Political Constitution guarantees the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, including access to clean water for all citizens. For example, pollution of water resources is classified as a crime under the Water Law as it jeopardizes public health, agriculture, industry, and the environment,

Despite regulatory advancements, significant challenges persist in water management. Water scarcity, contamination of water bodies, and unequal access to quality utility services continue to affect vulnerable communities worldwide.

Water scarcity affects millions of people worldwide, especially in regions where water resources are limited or poorly distributed. Overexploitation of aquifers, deforestation, and climate change further exacerbate this problem. Therefore, regulations aiming for efficient management of water resources must always be followed.

Water pollution is another significant challenge we face. Industrial, agricultural, and urban discharges pollute water bodies, affecting both human health and aquatic biodiversity. The lack of adequate infrastructure for wastewater treatment contributes to this issue.

Similarly, unequal access to clean water is a reality in many parts of the world. Rural and marginalized communities often lack access to basic drinking water and sanitation services, jeopardizing their health and well-being. This disparity in water access reflects broader inequalities in society and requires urgent actions to address it equitably.

Consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is imperative to promote and implement concrete actions to ensure universal and equitable access to clean water and adequate sanitation and hygiene services. This includes protecting natural water sources, improving wastewater treatment infrastructure, and strengthening water governance at local and national levels. In Costa Rica, for example, a significant gap in the quality of drinking water services has been evidenced in communities across various cantons, reflecting an urgent need to improve infrastructure and management practices.

Private companies also have an important role to play in sustainable water management. By adopting responsible practices in their operations and supply chains, they can reduce their impact on water resources and contribute to water conservation. This can be achieved by following the guidelines and requirements established for water management. Additionally, it is crucial to promote public policies that encourage equitable access to water and sanitation. This includes investing in basic infrastructure in vulnerable communities, as well as implementing social tariffs to ensure water is affordable for all.

Awareness-raising and collaboration are fundamental in promoting sustainable water management. Citizen education about the importance of preserving and protecting water resources, as well as fostering collaboration among governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and civil society, are crucial. All of this can help raise awareness of water-related issues and mobilize people to take concrete actions. Collaboration among different stakeholders can also generate innovative and sustainable solutions to address water challenges at both local and global levels.

World Water Day is not only an occasion to celebrate the importance of this precious element in our lives, but also to reflect on the challenges we face and commit to acting collectively to ensure a sustainable and equitable future for all. By recognizing that water is a shared resource, vital for the survival of humanity and the planet as a whole, we can work together to ensure that the concept of "Water for Peace" encompasses more than just a phrase, and instead becomes an achievable and enduring reality. By joining forces in a collective effort, we can work towards a future where access to clean water is a universal right and where water resources are managed equitably and sustainably for future generations.

Mariana Bolaños
Paralegal, Costa Rica.

The information provided by ARIAS® is presented for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers.