The 2015 Vatican Encyclical, Laudato Si’, on Water
The official text of the Vatican’s 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (“On Care for our Common Home”) addressed many environmental challenges, including climate change, biodiversity, food, and the critical issue of freshwater. Woven throughout the Encyclical is attention to the social and equity dimensions of water, coupled with a deep concern for the poor. The water sections focus on the disparities in access, quality, and use of water between the wealthier, industrialized parts of the world and poorer populations. The Encyclical notes that the use of water is often exploitation of the resource, exceeding natural limits while still failing to satisfy the needs of the poorest (section 27). It also addresses the lack of access to clean drinking (section 28), the challenges for food production due to droughts, disparities in water availability and “water poverty” (section 28), the continued prevalence of water-related diseases afflicting the poor (section 29), contamination of groundwater (section 29), and the trend toward privatization and commodification of a resource the Vatican describes as an “basic and universal human right” (section 30).