“Water must become a symbol of welcome and blessing, a reason for encounter and collaboration that increases mutual trust and fraternity,” said Pope Francis in his message to the participants of the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar.

World Water Day is celebrated every March 22 to raise awareness of the importance of caring for the so-called liquid gold for the life of human beings and other species on Earth.

The Pontiff’s message, read before the world audience by Cardinal Michael Czerny, interim prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, emphasizes precisely the threat that hangs over water resources due to factors such as pollution, conflicts, climate change, and the abuse of natural resources. But, above all, as a precious good for peace.

The right to drinking water and sanitation are closely linked to the right to life and, therefore, “rooted in the inalienable dignity of the human person,” says Pope Francis. It is a “primary, fundamental and universal human right, because it determines the survival of people.”

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“The world owes a serious social debt to the poor who do not have access to clean water, but also to all those for whom traditional sources of drinking water have been contaminated to the point of being unsafe, destroyed by weapons and rendered unusable, or dried up as a result of poor forest management,” denounces the Pontiff.

“Indeed, water is a gift from God and a common heritage that must be used universally by each generation,” the Pope emphasizes, noting that, in all these situations, water must become a symbol of welcome and blessing.

This day was proclaimed by the United Nations Organization in 1992. Despite the fact that all social and economic activities depend to a great extent on the supply of fresh water and its quality, 2.2 billion people live without access to drinking water.

This celebration aims to raise awareness of the global water crisis and the need to seek measures to address it so that we can achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.