Catarina de Albuquerque of Portugal has been named the winner of the 2016 IWA Global Water Award. The award recognises the role she has played as the driving force behind the recognition of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.
“I’m honoured to receive this award from within the water community, it will raise awareness of the critical water and sanitation needs of billions of people,” said de Albuquerque. “As a teenager I did volunteer work in the then existing Lisbon slums. I was profoundly disturbed by the injustices and inequalities I saw. Since then I felt that I wanted to contribute to changing the world and the underlying causes of the injustices I saw”.
From 2008 to 2014 Catarina became the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, having played a pivotal role in the recognition of water and sanitation as human rights by the UN General Assembly in 2010. Her work helped ensure the rights to water and sanitation were incorporated into the formal Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 document approved by the UN General Assembly.
This followed a four-year period during which she presided over the negotiations of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the United Nations, a treaty allowing people to bring complaints regarding human rights violations against their governments to the UN.
“Catarina has been instrumental in supporting the water sector towards universal access and to not ‘leave anybody behind’,” said Ger Bergkamp, Executive Director IWA. “Her work has inspired IWA to develop practical guidance on the implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.”
After successfully completing her second and final term as UN Special Rapporteur in December 2014, Catarina was appointed Executive Chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) global partnership which has the objectives of achieving universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation for all, always and everywhere.
The IWA Global Water Award is awarded by a panel of experts from across the water cycle, and recognises the exceptional contribution made by an individual to improve sustainable water and sanitation globally. It is awarded every two years at the IWA World Water Congress.