Committee: United Nations Environmental Programme
Topic: Access to Water
Country: Republic of Costa Rica
Delegate: Catherine Hwang, Forest Hills Northern High School
Access to water has been a pressing topic and developing goal among numerous countries. Not only should access to water be addressed, but also how to provide it to every citizen whilst maintaining proper sanitation regulations, as water has been recognized as a human right by the United Nations in 2010. Although immense progress has been made regarding drinking sources and sanitation, approximately more than 35% of the world’s population still lacks access to water or improved sanitation. This particular lack of sanitation facilities leads to such practices such as open defecation. Lesser developed countries such as those within Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Eastern Asia are especially restricted from proper water quality. Water is vital for any country, for it increases life expectancy at birth and decreases the chances of infant mortality as well as diseases.
Although Costa Rica has relatively high political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system as opposed to its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica strives to become a more developed country, for it is especially concerned with issues including water sanitation practices, environmental surroundings of water sources, as well as the effects of tourism on the water supply. For several years, Costa Rica has been a leader in environmental protection and the Costa Rican legislature is now taking further initiative to improve water resources whilst preserving nature’s environment. In response to several regions in the country having polluted streams and rivers, the Costa Rican government reacted to this sanitation problem and a plan is underway to construct Costa Rica’s first-ever wastewater treatment plant in San Jose. By 2020, Costa Rica strives to improve and fully develop Ley de Aguas, the Water Law. For the past several years, almost 20% of GDP has been spent towards achieving universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. In 2009, the National Alliance for the Defense of Water presented lawmakers a bill for “integrated” water resources management. Costa Rica has established an estimated 1000 community-based water organizations throughout the country to help resolve the issue.
Costa Rica encourages other countries to implement similar laws and actions that have been found beneficial to progressing towards the safe and adequate distribution of water to all citizens. Countries with natural and unique landscapes, rainforests, and great biodiversity, should utilize and protect natural resources to provide clean and plentiful water sources without harming the surrounding environment. Recognizing the importance of funding, Costa Rica hopes to see great cooperation among the countries within UNEP to develop a financially stable infrastructure that is able to maintain proper water management.
- Catherine Hwang