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Getting Involved: World Water Day, March 22

As Faiths For Safe Water is drumming up awareness for an issue that is killing 8,000 children daily in the world, unclean water, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions shares that on World Water Day, the human spirit and the spirit of so many faiths are united in recognizing the urgency of this global crisis.

The Interfaith movement has the opportunity to bring to light the power to solve this crisis. In the U.S., Faiths For Safe Water is circulating a petition today asking Congress for passage of a bipartisan bill, as well as sharing the facts to help all interested advocates in their grassroots and coalition efforts.  But they’ve also created a how-to guide for Congregations and Communities to support the cause of safe water worldwide for all.

Invitation to celebrate World Water Day in “Blessing Water”

Ambassador of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Heidi Rautionmaa, performs Interfaith work for a partnering network to the CPWR in Finland. Their Blessing Water event was performed in the spirit of 2013′s being the U.N.’s International Year Of Water Cooperation,” the equitable sharing of water will become another vehicle for promoting peace worldwide.

Water is an important symbolic and practical element of many faiths. Water is therefore a key element in ceremonies and religious rites.

World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. In 2013, the reflection is of the International Year of Water Cooperation. World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water.

“World Water Day could be celebrated together with people from different faiths in blessing water all around the world,” says Heidi Rautionmaa, a coordinator of Interfaith Dialogue Network in Finland, a cooperative network with the Parliament of World´s Religions.

Water is a vulnerable entity that demands an assessment of how spirituality directly, or indirectly, influences water governance.

“Spirituality refers to an inner path enabling a person to discover the deepest values and meanings by which people live. Holistic spirituality and ethics are important elements to have a sustainable way of life,” says Rautionmaa. Topics such as privatization, industrial pollution and water rights are deeply moral issues effecting not only humanity, but all life on earth.

The growing interfaith and ecumenical movement, especially on the grassroots level, can be giving when responding to today’s ethical crisis. The key principle underlying the Golden Rule is the unity and interconnectedness of all things. It is one of the cornerstones for dialogue and cooperation in promoting more peaceful, just and sustainable global community.

Interfaith Dialogoue Network in Finland consists of Faiths Without Borders/Uskot ilman rajoja ry., Religions for Peace Women of Faith Network in Finland, The Forum of Religions in Helsinki URI CC, Living together in cities/ Kaupunki yhteisönä ry. and Baabeli Netmagazine invites people and communities all around the world to bless water on World Water Day.

In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, the UNGA recognizes that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between different needs and priorities, and that sharing this precious resource equitably makes using water as an instrument of peace. Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions.


“Blessing Water” in Finland to Celebrate International Year of Water Cooperation

Orthodox Community in Heinola Finland celebrated the Water Day earlier this week in blessing water. Holy water was sprinkled on people and they also blessed themselves with holy water by drinking it. The Water Day event was organized by Henna Paasonen, the council member of Faiths Without Borders/Uskot ilman rajoja ry.

Peace is every step.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

World Water Day: A Call to Faith

by Katherine Marshall
from Huffington Post

March 22 is World Water Day, and today events the world over focus on water’s importance, for life in every form, and for the human spirit.
Few would disagree that WASH — the acronym that links water, sanitation and hygiene — is a critical need. Many actors are working hard to fill the glaring gaps that still exist and to meet the ideal of assuring “clean water for all” and decent sanitation. There’s some good news: the targets for water supply set by all the United Nations at the turn of millennium for the year 2015 have already been met (though 780 million people still lack safe drinking water). That’s something to celebrate and the achievement reflects extraordinary efforts — providing water to 2 billion people since 1990 is no mean feat. But sanitation goals lag far behind and well over 2 billion people lack access to anything approximating decent toilet facilities. We should never forget the daily challenges this lack means for people, and especially women, whose lives are often in danger as they seek quiet and privacy.

It should come as no surprise that many leading advocates and groups working in the world’s most difficult and remote places on water and sanitation draw their inspiration from their religious faith. In virtually every faith tradition, water plays a central role. It cleanses, purifies, sustains, heals and nurtures. It inspires with its beauty and poetry, and it conveys the mystery of life. In interfaith rituals, the shared focus on water is a common bond. WASH is so universal a need that it gives meaning to calls for social justice and equality. Surely few will be unmoved by the gross unfairness of the gap between turning on a faucet, assured that clean water will flow, and imagining the women who walk for miles to carry home a jug of brackish water.

World Water Day has a different theme each year and this year it is food security and agriculture. It’s a reminder that the main cause of hunger and famine is drought and that water is vital for all agriculture. Each of us drinks between two and four quarts of water every day, but in truth it is in the food we eat that most water is consumed. Producing a pound of beef consumes about 4,000 gallons of water while producing two pounds of wheat needs 400 gallons of water.

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CPWR Chair Urges Interfaith Cooperation on Water Security

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, the Council’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, championed interfaith collaboration as one of the greatest forces for water conservation, protection and positive consumer change.  Imam Mujahid was among the speakers for the United Nations’ World Water Day Conference in Chicago, hosted by the Office of the Governor.

World Water Day has been observed on March 22nd since 1993 voted by the United Nations as “a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.”  This year’s theme was “Water and Food Security: the world is thirsty because we are hungry.” Food security and water access are linked, as the UN projects that by 2025, over two-thirds of the world population could be living in conditions of water-scarcity or under water-stress. Further, 70% of the world water supply is used for food production, which is not sustainable, and climate change is a direct impact of overconsumption and ineffective consumption. Mujahid reminded his fellow religious leaders that America is indeed a religious nation, so by harnessing that collective religious responsibility, religious Americans can have a direct impact on water, food, and fuel usage. With 15% of all food in the US going to waste, Mujahid urged all present to reinforce the message “consume less, share more,” and to “share a message of hope”, in order to create a more sustainable future for water usage and food production, and to fulfill a collective responsibility as people of faith to use our given supply responsibly.

Trustee Emeritus Swami Varadananda, long-time Parliament organizer and manager of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society in Chicago, reflected on how CPWR had highlighted these issues at past Parliaments in Cape Town (1999) and Barcelona (2004), where lack of water accessibility and food insecurity in relation to sustainability were addressed.

The Dr. Robert Henderson, Vice-Chair for the Council and also an elected member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, spoke to the group about building awareness around clean water access and food insecurity, especially with youth in religious communities. He suggested as well the importance of recording and sharing local initiatives to aid the hungry with the interfaith community at large to maintain momentum and education.

The second half of the meeting was hosted by members of Faith in Place, a Chicago-based interfaith organization that advocates “stronger congregations for a sustainable world.”

In the spirit of CPWR, this meeting brought together people of faith to discuss and work toward action around vital issues that impact people locally and globally.