William Lindley Ring awarded to Catarina de Albuquerque

Water sector recognizes Portuguese human rights activist

April 2023. The German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) is honoring Catarina de Albuquerque with the William Lindley Ring. The Portuguese lawyer and human rights activist is the sixth person to receive the association’s William Lindley Ring, which was first awarded in 1998. The DWA is bestowing this honor in recognition of the key role that she played in the United Nations General Assembly acknowledging access to safe drinking water and sanitation as human rights. Albuquerque also made an essential contribution towards these rights being added to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Catarina de Albuquerque is currently Chief Executive Officer of Sanitation and Water for All. Headquartered in UNICEF in New York, this multi-stakeholder partnership brings together partners around the globe in support of the goal of sanitation and water for all. The award ceremony will take place during the DWA’s Berlin Dialog, set to take place on September 18 and 19, 2023. At the event, she will also hold a presentation on the impacts of these human rights.

Catarina de Albuquerque attended the German International School in Lisbon before studying law in Lisbon. After earning a master’s degree in law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, she first came in touch with the United Nations. In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council appointed her as the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. In 2010, she played a key role in access to clean drinking water and sanitation being recognized as human rights by the United Nations General Assembly. Albuquerque began working for Sanitation for All in 2014 and became its first Chief Executive Officer in 2018. The Portuguese Parliament has awarded her the Human Rights Gold Medal, and the Portuguese President honored her with the country’s Order of Merit.

Catarina de Albuquerque speaks fluent German, among other languages, and is delighted to have been awarded the William Lindley Ring. Responding to the announcement, Catarina de Albuquerque said: “I'm honored to receive this recognition. It reflects not only my own achievements, but those of all the partners of Sanitation and Water for All, who are tirelessly advocating the human rights to water and sanitation. The realization of these rights is an ongoing joint effort – to increase political will, promote accountability, fight inequalities - and it matters with this work is publicly recognized and valued.”

The DWA’s President, Professor Uli Paetzel, paid tribute to Catarina de Albu-querque on behalf of the entire DWA: "Time and again, it is the strong commitment shown by individuals that moves the world forward and makes it a better place. It is largely thanks to Catarina de Albuquerque that access to drinking water has become a human right. All of us, not just our fellow human beings in the global South, owe her and like-minded people a great deal. We recognize Catarina de Albuquerque as a prominent figure on behalf of ourselves and others.”

William Lindley – a pioneer in technical hygiene

The William Lindley Ring is awarded in memory of engineer William Lindley (1808-1900). Born in London, Lindley built river tunnels, railways, gas and waterworks, public baths and wash houses. He is mainly known for his work on sewage systems and drinking water supply in response to the cholera epidemics seen in the first half of the 19th century. He moved to Hamburg in 1824, where he built the first sewer system in mainland Europe in 1842. Later, he performed additional pioneering work to advance sanitation in Frankfurt am Main, Warsaw, Pest, Düsseldorf, Basel and on Helgoland before finally retiring to London in 1879.

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