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Book of Resolutions: Protection of Water

 

In the Bible, water in both its physical and spiritual dimensions is a gift. God covenants with God’s people and invites them to experience fullness of life. A measure of this abundant life is God’s offer of water as a free gift without cost or price (Isaiah 55:1). Water as an element and as a healing agent are God’s gift to everyone who thirsts. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let everyone who hears this also say, ‘Come!’ Let the thirsty man come, and let everyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift” (Revelation 22:17 Phillips). Further, the Bible offers examples of God and humans intervening in people’s water crises and providing water (Genesis 21:19; Genesis 24:15-21; Numbers 20:9-11). Water is an integral part of God’s radical expression of God’s love to all humanity. Water cannot be monopolized or privatized. It is to be shared like air, light, and earth. It is God’s elemental provision for the survival of all God’s children on this planet.

The problem is:

• Clean and plentiful water is the cornerstone of a prosperous community. But as we make our way through the twenty-first century, industrial and population demands are increasing as well as changing climate patterns draining rivers and aquifers. Pollution threatens the quality of what remains. (National Resource Council, found at http://www.nrdc.org/water/)

• Despite strong overall progress in worldwide access to clean drinking water, 748 million people still did not have access to improved drinking water in 2012. Wealth is the key factor to whether or not one can access an improved water supply. (World Health Organization and UNICEF, “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2014 Update,” May 2014, available: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2014/jmp-report/en)

• The progress or lack of progress toward just and affordable distribution of clean water for all starts with a principled acknowledgment of water as a human right. This right to water needs to be coupled with strong political accountability that adequately monitors the just implementation of the right to water. This requires political will from communities and governments.

• The world uses approximately 70 percent of Its water for irrigation, 20 percent for industry, and 10 percent for domestic use. Roughly 75 percent of all industrial water usage is for energy production. It is estimated that by 2030, humanity’s demand for water could outstrip sustainable supply by as much as 40 percent due to rising energy needs and continued population growth. Water policy that takes into consideration the water used in energy production and industrial agriculture must be implemented. (From http://www.unwater.org/statistics-detail/en/c/211818/; and http://www.unwater.org/statistics-detail/en/c/211820/)

• Current global water shortages are due to a multiplicity of reasons. Fossil fuel extraction and energy production account for over half of the water use in the United States. (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/energy-and-water.htm1#.VdRw1HyFM9U). Industrial practices pollute water sources through chemical and toxic leaks, drainage, (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-clean-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/energy-and-water.htm1#VdRw1HyFM9U) dumping, and runoff into rivers, lakes, and aquifers, which then require more sophisticated water sanitation facilities. The result is the privatization of water sanitation and distribution, as well as higher water prices. Ultimately, water becomes inaccessible to those who are impoverished.

• In addition, climate change is exacerbating drought and flooding. Flooding further pollutes water sources. When water availability and sanitation practices are compromised, community safety and security are threatened.

• Many persons who are able to afford it have turned to bottled water, and bottled water is often shipped into communities that are suffering from industrialized pollution of their water sources. And yet, bottled water takes water from one community, packages it in petroleum-based plastic (a product that uses water in every part of its extraction, production, and waste cycles), and then sells it for a profit to those who can afford it elsewhere.

The complications of the lack of clean, fresh water for communities result in the following:

Food Security:

• Many of the 840 million individuals who lack adequate food live in water-scarce regions.

• Diarrhea is the world’s leading form of death affecting 2.5 million persons; 88 percent of those deaths are due to poor water quality. (Found at: http://www.who.Int/water_sanitation_health/publications/factsfigures04/en/) Without clean water and adequate sanitation, hygiene is compromised and overall health is affected.

Safety and Security:

• When water and sanitation are threatened, community safety and security are threatened. Many countries are already experiencing violent conflict because of water shortage.

Quality of Life:

• The world’s cumulative pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and the oceans disturb the quality of life. Biodiversity of fresh water ecosystems has been more degraded than any other ecosystem. (Found at http://www.cbd.Int/waters/problem)

Therefore be it resolved, the people called United Methodists

• Shall affirm, educate, and advocate for clean, accessible, affordable water as a basic human right. It is to be shared and enjoyed by all God’s people; policy cannot favor the rich over the poor when it comes to accessing clean water.

• Shall work to ensure that the access to fresh water by human communities preempts industrial, energy, or industrial agriculture usage of the water supply.

• Shall work to ensure that watersheds be protected for their essential role in human survival, and recognize the transboundary nature of watersheds (between communities, states, and nations) and work to cooperate across those boundaries for everyone’s benefit.

• Shall work to require transnational trade agreements mandate corporations protect water supplies, and governments develop and maintain mechanisms of regulation and accountability.

• Shall encourage and develop strategies for guiding principles protecting our water supplies.

• Shall advocate that companies and corporate entities that pollute water supplies provide funds and services to clean the polluted waters.

• Shall urge all governments to make transparent, community-centered decisions about water use.

• Shall implement practices that minimize and make sustainable their own use of water in the church and at events.

• Shall advocate for federal subsidies for both the development and implementation of renewable wind and sun and geothermal energy.

• Shall develop practices that reduce the use of individual bottled water.

• Shall observe World Water Day (March 22).

Other resolutions:

Book of Resolutions, 1996, page 90, “Reduction of Water Usage”

Book of Resolutions, 1996, page 78, “Environmental Stewardship: Water”

Resolution #1033, “Caring for Creation: A Call to Stewardship and Justice”

ADOPTED 2004

READOPTED 2008

AMENDED AND READOPTED 2016

RESOLUTION #1029, 2008, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

RESOLUTION #13, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

See Social Principles, ¶ 160A

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2016.  Copyright @ 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House.  Used by permission.

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