Catarina de Albuquerque
Governing wastewater, curbing pollution, and improving water quality for the realization of human rights
The integration of the human rights framework in water policy and management is slowly gaining strength. What is too often overlooked, though, is the ‘other’ side of the water cycle: wastewater governance. What do human rights have to do with sewage, sludge, and septage? What are the links between human rights and water contamination? The article starts by explaining the concept of wastewater, outlining the impact of water pollution on the realization of human rights, exploring the interface between access to sanitation and wastewater governance, and presenting the relevant human rights framework. It goes on to describe how households, agriculture, and industry contribute to water pollution. Its main contribution lies in demonstrating the value of integrating human rights into wastewater governance and water pollution control to address challenges in the legislative and regulatory frameworks, institutional settings, appropriate technology choices, financing and pricing, and strengthening accountability and transparency.