Slovenia first EU nation to amend constitution and declare water a human right

Editor’s Note:  This article first appeared in the International Development Journal, an online journal offering a platform to engage in debate and discussions on global policies and current affairs.

Slovenia has recently added an article to its constitution saying that “everyone has the right to drinkable water.” In doing so it has made access to water a fundamental right for all its citizens and has prevented it from becoming a market commodity.

The amendment to the constitution was passed by a majority of 64 votes in the country’s 90-seat parliament with none voting against it. Miro Cerar, Slovenia’s centre-left Prime Minister, encouraged other politicians to pass the amendment, saying that the country should “protect water – the 21st century’s liquid gold – at the highest level.”

Cerar added that “Slovenian water has very good quality, and because of its value, in the future it will certainly be the target of foreign countries and international corporations’ appetites.” Slovenia is a mountainous and water-rich country of approximately 2 million people. Almost half of Slovenia’s landmass is covered by forests.

In amending its constitution and declaring water a human right and a public good to be managed by the state, Slovenia, is leading the way amongst European Union countries. Rampedre, the online Permanent Word Report on the Right to Water, however points out that 15 other countries around the world have already done as Slovenia has now done.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the critical importance of water by stating that “water is essential for life.” It adds that water is not an infinite resource and the pressure place on existing water sources is increasing. Protecting water is “important for the drinking-water supply, food production and recreational water use.”

By 2025 it is estimated that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. In recognising this national and global pressure, and in calling for the amendment to be passed Cerar says “as it will gradually become a more valuable commodity in the future, pressure over it will increase and we must not give in.”

The forward-thinking amendment follows other recent accolades for Slovenia. Earlier in the year, Green Destinations, a Netherlands based non-profit foundation, declared Slovenia the world’s first green destination country.

In addition, Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city was made the 2016 European Green Capital. Since being elected in 2006 the city’s major, Zoran Janković, has implemented over 1700 green projects. On why he is so conscious of the environment and sustainability he says “to me it is all about solidarity and keeping in mind that whatever we do today will have an impact on future generations, on our children and grandchildren.”


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