World Water Forum: Water is a resource that everyone needs, and must therefore be safeguarded by a set of regulations that are shared within various Countries

April 18, 2019

The 2018 World Water Forum, in Brasilia, with over 120 thousand people in attendance, focused on the serious issue of water shortage in large areas of our planet, something that will worsen during the following years, due to a constant increase of the population, and the demand for ever-increasing high-quality life standards.

A very important novelty stood out among the ones present at the forum: for the very first time, over 80 judges and experts, from 57 different countries, discussed water-related issues. This evermore precious resource has now become part of discussions including organizations, countries and populations, while often also causing dramatic conflicts.

Up to now, every single State, including European Union ones, always acted, with regard to legally safeguarding water, according to regulations and statutes that were oftentimes not updated or not capable of truly being effective in the new scenario, which sees this resource being evermore threatened by global interests.

A document that included the general principles that would inspire judiciary powers during legal matters connected to water, needed to be created. So the Charter of Brasilia was created for this purpose, a card that lays out these fundamentals.

The first of these, states that water is a necessity of public interest. This principle means that every State needs to do what it can to preserve this natural element.

All other principles consolidate this one, while offering general guidelines for correctly dealing with this matter, both at an individual and collective level. These are just a few:

  • everyone with the right to use the soil and waters must preserve the integrity of the ecosystem, considering the close connection between these two elements
  • every effort to preserve how water is traditionally used by tribal peoples must be made
  • this precautionary principle is fundamental: every measure to safeguard this necessity (water) must be made beforehand as a precautionary measure
  • anyone polluting waters shall reimburse the total costs for damages caused in terms of health and the environment
  • users of water for commercial and industrial purposes must pay for its use according to the entire life cycle costs needed to provided and preserve this necessity
  • judges must evaluate fraudulent or damaging activities connected to water, not just promptly, but considering the complexity of the environmental damages incurred.

These principles must be included within the statutes and regulations of every single State. This is a fundamental step, because the future preservation of this resource comes from being aware that all natural resources, especially water, are not unlimited, and must therefore be safeguarded.

Statutes and regulations do not suffice. This is why the Charter concludes with an appeal: efforts must be multiplied because scientific knowledge concerning water is spread even more, not just in the legal arena, so as to increase the awareness of the risks we face if we keep using this resource irresponsibly.