UUSC's Environmental Justice & Climate Action Program comprises two thematic goals: (1) promoting and defending the human right to water and (2) protecting and advancing the human rights of those that are most affected by and least able to respond to the impacts of climate change.
The Human Right to Water
The human right to water entitles everyone to safe, sufficient, accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use — yet, almost three-quarters of a billion people around the world lack clean drinking water. UUSC works to influence government policies related to environmental justice and mobilize activists to hold governments and corporations elites accountable for water-rights violations. .
UUSC is on the cutting edge of ensuring that the human right to water is recognized in principle and becomes a reality. UUSC collaborates with innovative groups who are protecting water resources and increasing access to services in law and practice. Recognizing that too many people are denied the human right to water because of discriminatory policies and procedures, UUSC focuses on working with rural communities and low-income urban residents, indigenous people, people of color, women, children, and people living with disabilities. Access to water shouldn’t depend on your race, identities, or bank account.
- Support civil society and grassroots groups in the struggle against water privatization and depletion
- Promote citizen involvement in the utilization and management of water as a common resource
- Advocate for new laws guaranteeing the human right to water
- Challenge corporate and governmental violations
- Create new models for implementing the human right to water
- Researching discrimination and affordability in water and sanitation services
- Pursuing legal recognition of the human right to water in the United States and throughout the world by working with local partners as well as international institutions like the United Nations
- Engaging in shareholder advocacy to hold corporations accountable for respecting the human right to water
- Collaborating with grassroots organizations to restore access to safe, affordable water in communities dealing with water contamination (caused by mining, industrial agriculture, and more)
Partner Impact and Activity Highlights
- Safeguarded the water sources of 8.7 million people in Argentina and Chile via groundbreaking work on protecting glaciers
- Supported a legal case in which the Mexican court ruled the city and country are required to fully implement the human right to water
- Held a mining company accountable for damaging the local water sources of 18 indigenous communities in Guatemala
- Helped pass and implement the California Human Right to Water Act, which benefits 11 million Californians who struggle to access clean water
- Advocated for water affordability in Boston, Mass., where Mayor Marty Walsh announced a 30% discount on water rates for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities
UUSC’s work on climate action will be to protect and advance the human rights of the world’s most climate-vulnerable populations, with a focus on resource rights, i.e. food sovereignty, access to water and arable land.
- The Invisible Crisis: Water Unaffordability in the United States, by Dr. Patricia Jones and Amber Moulton, UUSC (2016)
- Defending the Human Right to Water: A Decade of Support for Global Water Justice, by Amber Moulton, UUSC (2016)
UUSC Advocacy Foci
- Urging President Obama to take immediate Executive Action to address national problems related to water affordability, access and quality.
- Working with the National Coalition on Legislation for Affordable Water (NCLA Water) and other groups to raise public awareness and press for federal legislation on affordable water and sanitation services, stop mass water shut offs, win protections for vulnerable populations, and end criminalization of lack of access.
- Bringing national and state pressure to bear on Michigan lawmakers to pass a critical package of bills addressing water accessibility, quality and affordability for the state.
- Providing the human rights advocacy strategy for Commit2Respond, a collective Unitarian Universalist climate justice platform.