It is essential to define both the specific goals and the metrics that will be used to measure attainment of those goals ex ante. We cannot measure attainment using a metric system that is inconsistent with the stated targets. For example, Millennium De
It is essential to define both the specific goals and the metrics that will be used to measure attainment of those goals ex ante. We cannot measure attainment using a metric system that is inconsistent with the stated targets. For example, Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Target 7C strives to “[h]alve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to **safe** drinking water and basic sanitation.” While it has been asserted that this goal has been met five years ahead of schedule, this assertion is incorrect. MDG Target 7C specifically references access to “safe” drinking water, but the metric measuring attainment of the goal is merely “access to an **improved** source of drinking water.” These are not equivalent, as the UN MDG status report itself admits:

[s]ince it is not yet possible to measure water quality globally, dimensions of safety, reliability and sustainability are not … used to track progress towards the MDG target. As a result, it is likely that the number of people using improved water sources is an overestimate of the actual number of people using safe water supplies (United Nations, 2012:52).

Thus, rather than having met already the MDG drinking water goal, we have much work yet to do to ensure reliably “safe” drinking water for the world’s human populations. This work includes consistent, worldwide water quality monitoring, which has significant implications for both humans and waterway systems. In addition, expression in law of waterways’ own right to sufficient, clean water can begin to address the gap between “safe” and “unsafe” water supplies.

Cite: United Nations, “The Millennium Development Goals Report,” 2012, p. 52, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report%202012.pdf.

Linda Sheehan, Executive Director
Earth Law Center
lsheehan@earthlaw.org
www.earthlawcenter.org
Earth Law Center on 12:00 am, 7 Mar, 2013
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2:15 pm, 14 Mar, 2013
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature fully supports the positions taken by the Earth Law Center for inclusion in the Major Groups’ input on the development of the SDGs:
ď‚· Support for Earth-based SDGs, specifically through inclusion of commitments to recognize in
law the rights of ecosystems and species to exist, thrive and evolve.
ď‚· Endorsement, and promotion for adoption and implementation, of the Universal Declaration of
the Rights of Mother Earth, and active support for its implementation globally.
 Re-characterization of “sustainable development” as “sustainable communities,” a term that
includes both human communities and the wider communities of the natural world. Adoption of
SDGs with a focus on sustainable communities is necessary to ensure that all elements of
well-being are considered.

The current, neoliberal economics-based development approach
distorts communities to serve the economy. Elements of sustainable human communities
include not just the economy, but also culture, societal/familial relations, healthy food, clean drinking water, sanitation, housing, necessary medical care, democratic governance, education, meaningful and appropriately rewarded labor, spirituality, civic duty, volunteerism, etc. Sustainable environmental communities similarly require healthy nutrients, clean water, biodiversity, restoration in the face of destruction, and thriving, connected habitats. The economy must be viewed as serving human and environmental communities, not the reverse.

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is a worldwide network of individuals and organizations who support the recognition and implementation of Rights of Nature. http://therightsofnature.org

Robin Milam
Administrative Director
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
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