Pope Francis used the occasion of World Water Day (22 March 2017) to develop themes first raised in the May 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ and his address to a Vatican conference on the “human right to water” in February 2017.
Recalling that the Book of Genesis tells us that “water was there in the beginning,” he said the questions before us are “basic and pressing”: basic “because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance,” and pressing “because our common home needs to be protected.”
“Water needs to be given a central place in the framework of public policy,” Francis stated. “Our right to water is also a duty to water. Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty. We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.”
Steadfastness and encouragement, Pope Francis said, are Christian values that can help greatly in the work to meet water and other environmental and social challenges. At this point he turned and acknowledged those of us involved in the Watershed process with a blessing that it should continue usefully and productively.