Human Rights Council
22 February–19 March 2021
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, David R. Boyd, describes safe and sufficient water as one of the substantive components of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. He describes the causes and consequences of the global water crisis, focusing on the negative impacts of water pollution, water scarcity and water-related disasters on the enjoyment of many human rights, with disproportionate effects upon vulnerable and marginalized groups. He highlights procedural and substantive State obligations related to ensuring safe and sufficient water. He identifies good practices that have helped to reduce or prevent water pollution, alleviate water scarcity, reduce risks associated with water-related disasters and protect or restore aquatic ecosystems.
The Special Rapporteur provides a seven-step process for States to employ a rights-based approach to water governance, as well as recommendations for actions. Finally, he urges businesses, in order to fulfil their rights-related responsibilities, to contribute to and support efforts to ensure safe and sufficient water for all.