Global Green calls on President Bush to commit to global treaty on fresh water; DiCaprio helps kick off global water treaty campaign

On March 22, Global Green USA called on President Bush to commit to embracing a legally binding global treaty proclaiming water a basic human right. The Global Treaty on the Right to Water would make the United States and other governments accountable for providing clean water to over 1.2 billion people who do not have access.

To kick off the global water treaty campaign (www.watertreaty.org), Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and environmental activist, screened Water Planet, a short film that calls attention to the global water crisis.

Global Green USA is also urging President Bush to restore $500 million in funding cuts for clean water in his proposed budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to a recent poll, by pollsters Frank Luntz and Doug Schoen, more than eight in 10 Americans believe that clean and safe water is a national priority that deserves federal investment.

The statistics further show that 5,760 children die each day (4 per minute, 2.1 million each year) — an additional 2.9 women day each year — from illnesses associated with a lack of drinking water and basic sanitation. Today, 2.5 billion people lack water sanitation services. By the year 2020, half the countries of the world will be living in severe water stress, and one-third of the world's population will be without water and sanitation. Over-consumption and pollution of water supplies have stressed the world's fresh water systems.

Global Green USA, the U.S. affiliate of Green Cross International, founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, is urging President Bush's to support clean water in the United States and around the globe.

Globally, the Treaty on the Right to Water would function as an international legal instrument committing governments to prioritize access to water as an absolute human right, giving citizens a tool through which to assert their human right to safe water and sanitation, and oblige governments to make sure that this right is respected. Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) has introduced Safe Water: Currency for Peace Act with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

Global Green supports the goals of this bill, but urges protections against abuses from privatization and for Senators Frist, Lugar, and Reid to support the global treaty as well.

"Access to water is literally a question of life and death," said President of Green Cross International Mikhail Gorbachev. "A cry for 'Water for Life' echoes across the world, but an international document which would guarantee that everyone has a right to safe and affordable water, which would be binding for national governments and which, most importantly, would provide a schematic for the implementation of this right, does not exist. The world is at a crossroads. This is the moment of truth."

A recent survey found that clean fresh drinking water is more important to the majority of Americans than any other issue. At the same time, the Bush administration has proposed cutting the EPA's Clean Water funding by $500 million. Global Green USA underscored the need the Bush Administration's leadership in raising the importance of the global water crisis, as not only the human right of people, but as a way to strengthen the economic security and stability of suffering regions and countries.

"It has been estimated that clean, safe water can be brought to the 1.2 billion people around the world for as little as $50 per person," said Global Green President and CEO Matt Petersen. "It is ironic that we spend billions of dollars on missions to Mars to see if water ever existed on that barren plane, but we can't find the political will to insure that the water that exists on Earth reaches the billions of thirsty people in need today."

Water Planet was created and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tree Media Group and co-sponsored by Global Green USA to bring attention to the global water crisis that plagues our planet. Tree Media Group is a multi-media production and consulting firm based in Santa Monica, Calif. Entering its 10th year of operation, Tree Media's primary focus revolves around projects that promote civil society and a sustainable environment. The film highlights the vital importance of conserving the world's limited supply of fresh water and insuring greater access to water for the more than 1 billion people who don't have enough water to drink, bathe and sustain life.

As part of their campaign, Global Green USA presented ways individuals and businesses can take action to conserve water use and protect water resources.

Global Green USA (www.globalgreen.org), headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in Washington, DC and San Francisco, is the United States affiliate of Green Cross International. GCI was founded by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity's relationship with nature.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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