While the United States faces a major environmental backslide under President-elect Donald Trump, a small central European nation has become the first to enshrine the right to drinking water in their constitution. The new amendment to Slovenia‘s constitution states that drinkable water is a human right. Largely to prevent the commercialization of the country’s water resources, the Slovenian parliament just voted in favor of the new law. Prime Minister Miro Cerar, in favor of the amendment, described water as “the 21st century’s liquid gold.”
“Everyone has the right to drinkable water,” Slovenia’s constitution now says. “Water resources represent a public good that is managed by the state. Water resources are primary and durably used to supply citizens with potable water and households with water and, in this sense, are not a market commodity.”
The new law wasn’t without some controversy; the Slovenian Democratic party, which leans center-right according to The Guardian, felt the law wasn’t necessary, that it was put forward only to gain public approval, so they did not vote. There were 64 votes for and zero against the new law. There are 90 seats in Slovenia’s parliament.
Cerar said the quality of Slovenian water is high, and due to that fact foreign corporations would likely want to obtain the water in the future. “As it will gradually become a more valuable commodity in the future, pressure over it will increase and we must not give in,” he said.
Slovenia isn’t the first country in the world to state water is a human right, but it is the first European Union country to include such an article in its constitution.
Two million people live in Slovenia. 10,000 to 12,000 of those people are Roma, many of whom currently lack access to drinkable water, according to Amnesty International. Deputy Europe Director Fotis Filippou said in a statement, “Enshrining access to drinking water as a constitutional human right is an important legal step forward for Slovenia, but Roma communities need more than legal changes. Action is now needed to ensure the changes flow down to all those without water and sanitation.”
Via The Guardian