Water, sanitation and inequality

Leading human rights expert Catarina de Albuquerque will deliver this year’s UNC Health and Human Rights Lecture

Sept. 26, 2013 – Leading human rights expert and the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, will speak at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Friday, October 25.

Caterina de Albuquerque speaking at the United Nations

Caterina de Albuquerque speaking at the United Nations

This is the second in the UNC Health and Human Rights Lecture Series, which was launched in 2011 to address critical ethical, legal and policy issues in health. The free public lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center.

De Albuquerque will give her talk on “Implementing Human Rights to Eliminate Inequalities in Water and Sanitation.” Addressing the progressive implementation of water and sanitation systems throughout the world, she will discuss the policies necessary for marginalized populations to access basic services.

“Catarina de Albuquerque has proven a visionary leader in global efforts to develop water and sanitation as human rights and to implement these rights for public health,” said Benjamin Mason Meier, assistant professor of public policy and founder of the UNC Health and Human Rights Lecture Series.

Earlier this year, on World Water Day, de Albuquerque wrote, “In order to achieve the future we want, we need to. . . speak up for the millions who are marginalized and forgotten – people sleeping on the street, girls who walk miles to fetch water every day, boys who drop out of school because of diarrhea, people who cannot access water because of their disabilities.”

The selection of de Albuquerque was in part to recognize UNC’s two-year campus theme, Water in Our World. “Catarina de Alberquerque stands for so much of what the water theme is about,” said Jamie Bartram, director of the Water Institute at UNC. “The focus is on a common theme affecting our state, nation and world, brings rigorous scholarship and research to shine light on complex issues, and uses water as a spearhead to bring inter-disciplinary perspectives together to solve recalcitrant problems that defy simple, single-sector solutions.”

A native of Portugal, de Albuquerque holds a law degree from the University of Lisbon and is currently an invited professor at the law faculties of the Universities of Braga and Coimbra. In 2009 she was recognized for her work in the area of human rights by being awarded the Human Rights Golden Medal by the Portuguese Parliament. She was also honored by the Portuguese president with the Order of Merit, which recognizes an individual’s personal bravery, achievement, or service.

“Prof. de Albuquerque brings refreshing energy and determination that inspire our faculty and students and show the role that true thought leadership can play in advancing global priorities for health and development,” Bartram said.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, the Center for Bioethics, the Department of Public Policy, the Global Research Institute, and the Water Institute at UNC.

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UPDATE 11/25: The entire lecture is available online. Watch it now.