It is an honour for me to greet you warmly, also on behalf of the Holy Father, on the occasion of World Water Day 2021.
The theme chosen for this year, “Valuing Water,” invites us to be more responsible in the protection and use of this element, fundamental for the preservation of our planet. Indeed, without water, there would be no life, no urban centres, no agricultural, forestry or livestock productivity. Yet this resource has not been granted the care and attention it deserves. Even today we continue to make the mistake of wasting it, disregarding it or polluting it.
Moreover, in the 21st century, in the age of progress and technological advances, access to safe, drinkable water is not within everyone’s reach. The Holy Father reminds us that water is “a basic and universal human right … a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (Encyclical Laudato si’, 30); a good to which all human beings, without exception have the right to have adequate access, so that they can lead a dignified life. Thus, “our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (ibid.).
Added to this sad reality today are the harmful effects of climate change: floods, droughts, rising temperatures, sudden and unpredictable variability in rainfall, thaws, diminishing river flows or depletion of groundwater. All these phenomena damage and impair water quality and thus prevent a serene and fertile life. The spread of the throw-away culture and the globalisation of indifference, which make people feel empowered to plunder and exploit creation, also contribute to this state of affairs. Not to mention the current health crisis, which has widened existing social and economic inequalities, highlighting the damage caused by the absence or inefficiency of water services among those most in need.
Thinking of those who today lack such a substantial commodity as water, as well as of the generations that will succeed us, I invite all to work to end the pollution of seas and rivers, of underground streams and springs, through educational work to promote change in our lifestyles, and the search for goodness, truth, beauty and communion with others for the common good. Let these be the approaches that determine the choices of consumption, savings and investments (cf. St. John Paul II, Encyclical Centesimus annus, no. 36). […]