Making the Earth Charter relevant to water management

The Earth Charter International – ECI Secretariat presented the Earth Charter in a water conference that took place on Oct 26-27 in San Carlos, Costa Rica.

This conference was organized by the Costa Rican co-op movement, and it focused on the challenges and achievements in water management in the North region of Costa Rica.  In this region, as it is the case in most rural areas in Costa Rica, water management is very decentralized.  In this sense, water as a resource is owned by the State, but the State allows associations and cooperatives to deliver drinking water service, and overall protect the water resources.    These associations are composed by community members or local dwellers, any person can get involved in these groups, and representatives are democratically elected.   This is to avoid that large corporations control the water.

Most of attendees of this conference were members of these local associations or cooperatives, who deliver the water service in their communities.  When they heard about the Earth Charter, they were surprised to know that there is a document that encompasses all the values and ethical principles that they think are important for any development plan or economic activity.   Some agreed that the Earth Charter provides a very hopeful and positive message, but it is far to be a reality in this region where they live. 

Many participants expressed concern about the large pineapple production, other agribusiness activities and rapid urbanization that are affecting the ecosystems’ integrity, and people´s well being too.   Many people from this region have refused to actions such as mining or oil exploration, and are very enthusiastic in promoting conservation actions. 

The Earth Charter principles that were discussed as more applicable for water management processes are:

5e. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.
6 b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.

9 a. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.
After the presentation on the Earth Charter twenty-six attendees ended up endorsing the Earth Charter.

Find here the conference program.