A right luxury (S.P.Q.R - A/64/292)

The presence of water is one of the things that makes this planet we live on rather special and as such it is one of the main requirements for life. In 2010 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a binding resolution after it was finally agreed, by 122 countries, that there should be a human ‘right to water’, alongside the right to sanitation and an adequate standard of living. The latter two statements can be open to interpretation but the necessity of access to clean water for life cannot. It is interesting to note that the number of countries that abstained from the vote of Resolution A/64/292, 41 in total, include Australia, Austria, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom and United States.

In London most of the public water fountains of my childhood seem to have disappeared (along with the particular smell experienced whilst drinking from them). In Madrid you can still find drinking fountains in parks and many public spaces and people praise the quality of the tap water whereas in Beijing people only drink bottled water, as in most of Asia, for many reasons.

Hence my surprise when I visited Rome and found that water runs continuously for all, 24hrs a day, seven days a week from the thousands of fountains affectionately called nasoni (big noses). Dotted around the city on street corners, in piazzas and up quiet cobbled streets, this could be seen to be in keeping with ancient Roman Laws, negating the possibility of ownership of elements such as water, air, and the seas. Whatever the reasoning, it is quite telling that to me this felt strange whilst also a luxury.