Humanitarian and advocacy groups are marking the 22 March commemoration of World Water Day with renewed focus on the need for "water justice" - writes Chris Herlinger.
"The global water crisis is going to be one of the 'hot topics' and key issues of the 21st century," Luciano Kovacs, the North America Regional Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, told ENInews. "Water could become the oil of the 21st century."
The Geneva-based federation has initiated a global water justice campaign that begins on 22 March 2011. It is asking its local movements of ecumenical student groups to participate in an international effort to take action against the problems of "water scarcity, water pollution and water commercialisation and privatisation," viewing them as "serious threats to our fellow people of Earth, the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalised, with whom we are called to walk in solidarity."
"As stewards of Creation, water reminds us to connect at the most basic elemental level. We recognise that water is a real, universal need and that connects all of God’s world," the statement said. "As Christians, we know that water is a powerful symbol of our thirst for justice, of the power of the Holy Spirit, and of the wellspring of life in Jesus Christ."
The federation campaign begins on the day the United Nations calls for global attention to the problems of water which Kovacs, who is based in New York, said are disproportionately affecting poor countries.
"For the global south, the water crisis is already a daily reality," he said in an interview. "It's a matter of life and death for the planet."
Among the activities planned by local World Student Christian Federation groups are prayer services, forums and "flash mob freezes" on college and university campuses.
World Water Day observances originated from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and are meant to highlight the need to address water scarcity and other problems related to the environment and water.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]