Maude Barlow named 1st UN water adviser

Canadian activist Maude Barlow has been appointed as the United Nation's first senior adviser on water issues, a role she hopes to use to establish water as a human right and to convince Canada to "change its shameful position" on the issue.

Canadian activist Maude Barlow has been appointed as the United Nation's first senior adviser on water issues, a role she hopes to use to establish water as a human right and to convince Canada to "change its shameful position" on the issue.

Barlow, chair of the citizens' advocacy group Council of Canadians, will work with the current president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to advance a more democratic and transparent method of policy making around water at the global level than now exists," Barlow said in a press release. "Water is a commons, a public trust and a human right."

Barlow said there's "growing momentum" in the international community for water justice but will focus some of her attention on her home country.

"I also plan to take this opportunity to get the Canadian government to change its shameful position, and to finally join the international community in recognizing water as a human right," said Barlow.

D’Escoto extolled on Barlow’s ability to "combine humanitarian vision with a practical approach to problem solving" and has expressed support for her crusade, calling water a "human right as basic as the air we breathe."

Barlow holds six honorary doctorates and has written or co-written 16 books. She is also co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, a group that works to protect fresh water from trade and privatization around the world.

The United Nations estimates 42,000 people die every week from diseases related to bad water and poor sanitation.

With files from the Canadian Press