Catarina de Albuquerque, SWA Executive Chair, winner of IWA Global Water Award 2016

15 Sep, 2016

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Catarina de Albuquerque has been named the winner of the 2016 IWA Global Water Award. The award recognizes the exceptional role she has played as the driving force behind the recognition of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation.

In its citation, the Award Committee says that, “Catarina de Albuquerque is a visionary who has shown great leadership to ensure that the human rights to water and sanitation were distinctly identified in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. She has the charisma to influence policy makers at the highest level. She can analyse the challenges of water and sanitation service provision from different angles and contribute solutions that cross boundaries. In a short time she has had a significant impact on the world of drinking water and sanitation, a mission she continues now and into the future.”

Ger Bergkamp, Executive Director of the IWA said: “Catarina de Albuquerque has been instrumental in supporting the water sector towards universal access and to not ‘leave anybody behind’. Her work has inspired IWA to develop practical guidance on the implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.” 

Talking about her work, Catarina de Albuquerque said, “I’m honored to receive this award from within the water community, it will raise awareness of the critical water and sanitation needs of billions of people. 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”. 

“This is why I studied Law and then human rights law. I worked for over 10 years on child rights and social rights. The work on water, sanitation and hygiene was a ‘natural evolution’ as it is an essential and practical means to realize human rights, to empower women and girls, to combat injustices and eliminate inequalities.”

It is estimated that, globally, almost one third of the world’s population – some two and a half billion people – live without adequate sanitation facilities. Additionally, 663 million people still do not have access to an improved source of safe drinking water. Of course many more do not have access to water and sanitation that meets the human rights requirements. 

The health, economic and societal impact of this is immense: 842,000 deaths each year are caused by unsafe water and a lack of sanitation; millions of women and girls are excluded from education and productive work because they have to walk long distances to collect water; the associated cost to the global economy is $260 billion annually.


More about the IWA Global Water Award

The IWA Global Water Award will be presented to Catarina de Albuquerque during the opening ceremony of the IWA World Water Congress, held in Brisbane, Australia, 09 October 2016.

The International Water Association is the largest international network of water professionals working towards a water wise world, with members in more than 130 countries. Its work focuses on developing solutions for water and wastewater management. As a knowledge hub for the latest science, technology and best practice in the water sector at large, the IWA works to place water on the global political agenda and to influence best practice in regulation and policy making.

The IWA Global Water Award is awarded by a panel of experts from across the water cycle, and recognizes 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.