The Most Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town:

While we should not sentimentally allegorise every aspect of water, there are parallels from Christian tradition which can inform and energise our attitudes towards its use.  Jesus says that streams of living water will flow from those who have faith.  Therefore our blessings, of whatever sort, are meant to be shared, for Christians are called to be bearers of his gospel (that is, his ‘good news') for all people.  All our resources are to be shared - whether material, financial, intellectual, or any other sort.  Christ's spiritual well, said to be bottomless, nourishes our commitment to act responsibly in response to the risks of, for example, climate change, pollution, urban and peri-urban construction and the safeguarding and sharing of our finite supplies.  Right stewardship of creation is a central spiritual value, as is ensuring justice, especially for the poorest of the poor.

And while faith communities generally do not share all the presuppositions that underlie human rights language, we nonetheless would concur that access - free access - to adequate clean water is something which should be guaranteed for every single human person on our planet.  For not only did Jesus say that whoever is spiritually thirsty should come to him and drink, he also cautioned that we shall all be judged on whether we have fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, sheltered the homeless, tended the sick, clothed the naked, visited the imprisoned - and given the thirsty something to drink.  It is a warning none of us, whatever our beliefs, are at liberty to ignore.

The Soetendorp Institute


Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values
Van Wijngaerdenstraat 21
2596 TW The Hague
The Netherlands