Water is not a commodity and a financial asset to be exploited, says UN human rights expert – World



GENEVA (October 20, 2021) – Water is increasingly being treated as a commodity and even as a financial asset, a UN human rights expert told the United Nations General Assembly today. United Nations, undermining the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and environmental sustainability.

Pedro Arrojo Agudo, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation, said in a report that the trade in water use rights in the markets has eroded the notion of water as a common good and of the State as the guarantor of the general interest.

The UN expert also pointed out that the water trade tends to treat the environment as another user, and not as the basis of life, forcing states to buy streams for environmental needs and not addressing the roots of unsustainability.
“I call on states to rethink the usefulness of water trade as a scarcity management tool and to consult with the public to determine whether water trade markets should be abolished or more strictly regulated “said Arrojo Agudo.

On the other hand, the recent entry of water as a commodity derivative into the Wall Street futures markets worsens the situation by subjecting water to the forces of financial speculation and the risks of speculative bubbles, regardless. human rights requirements and ecosystem sustainability, he said.

“States should urgently take legal action to prevent water from being the subject of financial speculation in futures markets, which could lead to far-reaching consequences similar to those of food and property bubbles,” said the expert.
Rather than setting up water exchange markets and allowing water exchange on futures markets, states should manage water as a public good, ensure sustainable management and develop plans participatory adaptation to climate change (as recommended by experts and the UN), in order to guarantee human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, he said.

“The harsh experience of the pandemic has reminded us that water and sanitation are the cornerstone of public health. It is essential that States, the World Bank and the international community understand that we are facing a global democratic challenge, ”said the UN expert. This challenge requires a public, not-for-profit, investment effort that ensures no one is left behind, leveraging the funds made available to implement the 21st Century Green New Deal. ”

A simplified version of the report is also available in English, French and Spanish.
Yesterday, a group of human rights experts published a joint statement on the threat that financial speculation poses to the enjoyment of a series of human rights.


Mr. Pedro Arrojo Agudo (Spain) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation, appointed in September 2020. He is Emeritus Professor of Economic Analysis at the University of Zaragoza and was previously elected member of the Spanish Parliament during its eleventh and twelfth legislatures from 2016 to 2019.
Special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups are part of what is known as the Special procedures
of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest group of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with either country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in an individual capacity. *

For more information and media inquiries, please contact Ms. Ahreum Lee ([email protected]).

For media inquiries regarding other independent United Nations experts, please contact: In New York, contact Nenad Vasic ([email protected], +1 917 941 7558). In Geneva :* Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / [email protected]). *



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