Linking social justice activists at All Systems Connect

by | Apr 26, 2023 | News

End Water Poverty brings together activists from around the world to share their expertise on leading successful campaigns for water justice at the 2023 All Systems Connect conference in May.

From 2-4 May 2023, we’re joining an impressive group of water rights activists in the Hague, the Netherlands, for All Systems Connect – a global conference hosted by IRC that links actors and activists across sectors so they can share strategies for a more just world. We’re leading the social justice theme at the symposium, foregrounding the voices and actions of people who are championing fair access to safe water, proper sanitation and a healthy environment for their communities.

Well-managed natural resources and public services are essential to social justice. When both are readily available, they keep people healthy, freeing them to get on with learning and making a living. When these basics are missing or are denied to communities, people are forced to take a stand. They are women and men who care about their families, friends and neighbourhoods – and speak out, employing diverse and savvy strategies to take action against inequality and discrimination.

It’s because of activists and their dedicated campaigning that justice is won. Today, this commitment is in high demand as governments and corporations around the world pollute and exploit water and other natural resources, plunging communities deeper into poverty and ill health.

Tipping the balance of power in favour of the many

Currently, injustice prevails in too many societies, and access to power, resources and services remains divided by race, class, gender, nationality and geography. Because access to power, privilege and services is stacked in favour of wealthier, more powerful actors, special measures are needed to safeguard the rights of groups who are side-lined and denied a seat at the table.

When communities stand up and demand their rights to water and sanitation, governments exploit legal loopholes or use violence to silence them. In response, communities use creative strategies to get their point across, deploying a combination of persuasive and compelling strategies to effect change.  They play a vital role in strengthening governance by persistently holding states accountable. It is their agency and actions that activate legal and policy frameworks, and political commitments. Social justice is about action.

That’s why we’re platforming community activists, social movements and civil society organisations at All Systems Connect, and creating opportunities to exchange experiences, strategies and actions.

CONNECT Social Justice

CONNECT Social Justice, the theme we’re leading, comprises four sessions focused on community actions to claim the rights to:

  • water, sanitation, housing and a safe environment
  • civic and political space, voice and agency
  • work and making a living
  • gender justice

These sessions include a screening and discussion of our new Hearing the Unheard film, a synthesis of video testimony from dozens of marginalised groups across the world as part of the #HearingTheUnheardHRWS campaign. There will also be a rights-claiming exchange between activists, and a session foregrounding the actions of sanitation workers, waste pickers and informal traders for social change.

On Tuesday 2 May, we launch our new report highlighting lessons learned from the Claim Your Water Rights campaign. After the Symposium, as part 2 of the launch, we will convene an online peer-to-peer exchange between campaign members (more on this soon).

Throughout, speakers from Africa, the Americas and Asia will unpack the links between water, sanitation, climate, health, gender and economic justice, and share how they’re building connected movements for change.

Follow us on Twitter for updates