21 March 2022 | Message


On behalf of Pope Francis, I would like to express my warmest greetings to all the
participants gathered for the Ninth World Water Forum on the theme Water security
for peace and development. It is appropriate to underline the importance of this
issue, as there are so many related current and future challenges for our humanity.
Our world is thirsty for peace, for this indivisible good that requires the effort and
constant contribution of everyone and that is based on the fulfillment of the
essential and vital needs of every human being.
Today, water security is threatened by various factors, including pollution, conflicts,
climate change and the abuse of natural resources. Yet water is a precious asset for
peace. Therefore, it cannot be considered simply as a private good, generating
commercial profit and subject to market laws.
Moreover, the right to drinking water and sanitation is closely linked to the right to
life, which is rooted in the inalienable dignity of the human person and constitutes a
condition for the exercise of other human rights. Access to water and sanitation is
in fact a “basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival”.
Therefore, the world has “a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to
drinking water”, but also to all those for whom traditional sources of drinking water
have been polluted to the point of being dangerous, destroyed by weapons and
rendered unusable, or dried up as a result of poor forest management.
Today, more than 2 billion people are deprived of access to clean water and/or
sanitation. Think of all the practical consequences that this can have, in particular
for patients in health centres, for women in labor, for prisoners, refugees and
displaced persons.
I appeal to all political and economic leaders, to the various administrations, to
those who are in a position to direct research, financing, education and the
exploitation of natural resources and water in particular, so that they may have at
heart to serve the common good with dignity, with determination, integrity and in a
spirit of cooperation. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that “addressing
water scarcity and improving water management, especially by communities, can
help create greater social cohesion and solidarity”, initiating processes and building
relationships. Indeed, water is a gift from God and a common heritage whose
universal destination must be ensured for each generation.
Moreover, it is a fact that “fresh waters, both surface and groundwater, are largely
transboundary. [Therefore], peace would be gained if countries could collaborate for
water in various areas of the world more than is currently the case. … Well-proven
transboundary water cooperate mechanisms are an important feature of peace and
of the prevention of armed conflicts.” In this regard, how can we not think not only
of the Senegal River, but also of the Niger, the Nile and other large rivers that cross
several countries? In all these situations, water must become a symbol of welcome
and blessing, a reason for meeting and collaboration that will increase mutual trust
and fraternity.
Let us remember that “what we call ‘nature’ in its cosmic sense has its origin in ‘a
plan of love and truth’… The world ‘is not the product of any necessity whatsoever,
nor of blind fate or chance’”. Managing water sustainably and with effective
institutions of solidarity is therefore not only a contribution to peace, but also a way
of recognizing this gift of creation that has been entrusted to us so that together we
can take care of it.
Pope Francis assures you of his prayer that this World Water Forum will be an
opportunity to work together for the realization of the right to drinking water and
sanitation for every human being, and that it will thus contribute to making water a
true symbol of sharing, of constructive and responsible dialogue in favor of a lasting
peace, because it is built on trust.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State of His Holiness