Today is World Water Day! On this day, MADRE is bringing attention to the ongoing crisis of clean water scarcity that women and their families face worldwide. We are also recognizing the crucial work our sister organizations are doing to create a world with clean water for all (for more information on these projects, click here).

We also just received the below statement from Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director of our Kenyan sister organization the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), who is participating in this year’s World Water Forum in France:

As representatives of the International Advisory Committee for the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace and other Indigenous nations and peoples, we proclaim the responsibility to honor and respect water as a sacred being that sustains all of life. Humans and all living things have the right to water, but water also has rights.

We have been placed upon Mother Earth, each in our own traditional sacred land and territory to care for all creation. In recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth we are here today to present a call to action for an Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace as a solution to the challenges to the world’s water. It is hoped that the planned Indigenous

World Forum on Water and Peace (IWFWP) will bring together a diverse Indigenous knowledge network that integrates multi-disciplinary approaches to water and peace.

From a foundation of Indigenous leadership from regions of the world, this initiative will include invited non-Indigenous and like-minded groups. The IWFWP will develop innovative water solutions; seek new opportunities for positive adaptation, recognition of Indigenous resiliency and traditional knowledge, applications for recognition of our water rights and lead the way to the preservation of our sacred world of water.

Our main objectives include:

- Understanding the magnitude and patterns of destruction and depletion of water sources and its impacts;

- Evaluating the physical, cultural, spiritual, economic, legal and social implications;

- Assessing mitigation and adaptation options and developing policy and social solutions based upon indigenous traditional knowledge and cosmo-vision;

- Evaluating and strengthening education and capacity-building and solution-based strategies to address water issues; and

- Communicating and providing action-oriented policy that recognizes Indigenous rights to water and other related issues to government, industry and the general public.

We are in concert with the need to give voice to the Indigenous perspective of guardianship of all sources of water. We as Indigenous Peoples understand this as our sacred duty to protect our relationship to all the elements that comprise life.

We strongly recommend that consideration be given to the contributions raised by Indigenous Peoples of the world regarding the protection, conservation, safety, and access to clean water and sanitation as a priority in any discussion of water issues.

- As Indigenous Peoples, we view privatization as unsustainable. Furthermore, the establishment of water as a commodity violates the basic human right to water and sacred principles of water.

- The planning and development of water policies should be participatory and governments should ensure that all Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders are involved.

- Governments should involve Indigenous Peoples in leadership and decision making in water related projects and programmes and respect the traditional knowledge on water management.

- Awareness and information sharing is important for the success of the implementation of any project, for indigenous peoples and other key players to be involved-transparency and information availability must be adhered to.

- A human rights based approach must be used in all activities and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) must be recognized in all situations where water policy decisions affect Indigenous Peoples.

We, the International Advisory Committee for the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace, are in support of the establishment of Water as a right of Nature. We call upon the Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Donors, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector assembled in Marseille, France, on 13 March 2012 at the Ministerial Conference of the 6th World Water Forum to support the access to safe water as a basic human right, as recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, and the rights to water of all of nature. A central concern of Indigenous Peoples in all aspects of water and sanitation policy and solutions must be the obligation to ensure that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected, upheld and recognized, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Supported by: Four Peoples of Gonawindua, the Kogui, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo Mama of La Sierra Nevada, Columbia; Indigenous Environmental Network, North America; International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers (International); and the International Advisory Body of the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace.

And watch a video below of Lucy Mulenkei talking about access to clean water and Indigenous solutions:

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