Human Rights

Every person has a human right to an adequate standard of living, to safe drinking water, and sanitation.


The WGF envisions a world where the principles of good governance underpin efforts to respect, protect and fulfil every person’s human rights.

Every human being has a right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Yet, some 1.8 billion people used unsafe water in 2010. In 2015, some 470 000 children are estimated to die before the age of 5 because of diarrhoea linked to bad water quality and poor hygiene. Many of those deaths are preventable with access to reliable piped water, community sewage with treatment, and hand hygiene.

Our water crisis is often described as one of governance rather than water scarcity.

Climate change and extreme weather events amplify seasonal water scarcity and uncertainty, and pose direct and indirect threats to the rights to life, food and water. Overall, environmental degradation threatens the right to a healthy environment, which is now recognized by most countries in the world.

The essential linkages between human rights and development were acknowledged in the Millennium Declaration from 2000, and the Sustainable Development Goals reaffirm the importance of good governance and respect for all human rights.

Good water governance is fundamental to improve the situation for under-served and vulnerable groups, and calls for action at many levels. Addressing societal development from a rights-based approach (HRBA) involves a state that is guided by core values, acts on behalf of all citizens, invests in welfare, and provides a foundation for everyone to reach their full potential. This builds on international cooperation, active civil society and non-governmental organisations, and implicates business corporations that respect the rights of others.

The human rights-based approach moves the focus from needs and charity to rights and freedoms, and to obligations and responsibilities. It seeks to promote and protect human rights by strengthening and building capacities: in rights-holders to empower them to claim their rights and valid entitlements, and in duty-bearers to enable them to meet their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil all human rights.

The human rights-based approach gives equal attention to what should be done and how, such as in different phases and steps of a project or programme cycle. SIWI seeks to mainstream human rights into various activities, projects and programs as follows: 

  • Goal: In all policies, projects and programs, activities and actions, strive to further the realization of human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments,
  • Process: Ensure that all work in all phases of the project or program is guided by human rights standards and principles,
  • Outcome: Aim to contribute to the development of the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations, and/or of ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights.


Dr. Jenny Grönwall

Programme Manager
Phone: +46 8 121 360 98


Human rights