The second module of the Masterclass for Institutional responsibility was held on may 10th and it focused on the human rights to water and sanitation, and corporate due diligence for sustainability. Dr. Pedi Obani, HR2W’s vice-chair of the Expert Committee, was in charge of this session. We had 168 people participate in the lecture part of the module. Dr. Obani then facilitated a workshop to talk in more depth about this topic.
If you wish to take part of the interactive workshop for this masterclass you can learn about how to become a member here. Members that join the full version of our masterclass (lecture + workshop) will be able to receive a certificate.
Presentations by Pedi Obani
There is a big gap in the access to water and sanitation and while it was always a pressing issue, the COVID-19 crisis enhanced the importance to the human right to water and sanitation (HRWS). As Dr. Obani explained, ensuring safe access to water and sanitation should be a priority to institutions, not only important because it’s a human right, but also because it can improve productivity, reduce social unrest, avoid any reputational damage, among other reasons.
There is a strong link between these two rights. However, while they are connected, it is important to understand as well that
“the human right to water and the human right to sanitation are both independent rights”
What is the human right to water and the human right to sanitation?
- Right to water : “entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use”
- Right to sanitation : “entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and dignity”
Corporate Due Diligence
States have a legal obligation to respect, protect, fulfill, and promote these rights. However, when applying the SDG 6, there are still some gaps and they may not impose the same level of legal obligation. Therefore, corporate due diligence becomes essential. Having companies identify, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse impacts and account for how these impacts are addressed is a proactive way to fulfill the HRWS.
Having a mandatory corporate due diligence would mean having a system in place with the legal obligation to prevent, review and report. It also reverses the burden of proof and imposes a liability for violations of any human rights. Additionally, it impulses other actors of the supply chain and direct operations to hold themselves accountable to these standards as well. Corporate due diligence in the HRWS helps to think about the responsibility not only in the process, but also in the outcomes and it forces companies to think about the vulnerabilities that these violations bring.
Presentations by Pedi Obani
The workshop that followed the lecture was moderated by Dr. Obani. She helped guide in depth conversations about the access to water and sanitation in the different regions represented by our participants.