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Vatican invites experts to promote safe, accessible water for everyone


A man carries containers filled with drinking water after taking it from a public tap at a roadside in Jammu, India, May 23, 2016. (CNS photo/Jaipal Singh, EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A special gathering of policy experts, government officials, religious leaders, scholars, and development and social justice advocates was looking at ways to guarantee water that is safe and more accessible to the world's people.

More than 90 experts were invited from five continents to provide an interdisciplinary look at the role of public policies in water and sanitation management. The meeting, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Argentine-based School of Dialogue and the Culture of Encounter, was held Feb. 23-24 and was to include a speech from Pope Francis and a final "Rome Declaration" drafted and signed by participants.

The opening sessions looked at the religious, moral and rational bases underlying a call for the universal right to safe and accessible drinking water.

Jerome Delli Priscoli, an expert in water conflict negotiations and management, said people will not expand or facilitate access to water without an attitude that is also built on respecting human dignity.

Water management and policies have to take into account values such as solidarity, just distribution, preferential option for the poor, respect for the environment and being "good stewards" who are "co-creative in the design process that God has set in motion."

Gianni Vattimo, an Italian philosopher, said attention to getting people access to water should not overlook the quality of that water.

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