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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2008

Pacific Institute Shares BENNY Award
for Efforts in South African Water Rights Decision

Oakland, Calif. – The Pacific Institute is the co-recipient of a 2008 Business Ethics Network BENNY Award, recognizing its contribution to a groundbreaking legal decision in South Africa this past April on the human right to water. The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the Pacific Institute received the third-place award “where a victory is defined as the realization of a significant commitment or actual change in policy.”
At the 2008 BEN Conference in Oakland, California on October 15, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick accepted the award on behalf of both organizations, saying, “The tenacity of CALS in pursuing the legal rights of the people of South Africa produced a seminal moment: the first time the constitutional right to water has explicitly been recognized by the High Court of South Africa. As a result, our longstanding work on basic human needs and the right to water has been translated directly into policy.”

In the BENNY Award nomination, the Business Ethics Network cited the legal victory CALS secured for all plaintiffs in the right to access sufficient water in both physical and economic terms: people in lower-income areas (Phiri, Soweto) no longer are unfairly singled out to endure punitive prepayment water meters that automatically disconnect the water supply when the water credit (purchased in the form of vouchers) runs out – and the city must now provide, for free, the minimum amount of water required for human needs.

Gleick, an expert on water issues, sustainable water use, planning, and policy, submitted an amicus brief that was quoted extensively in Judge Toska’s decision addressing the constitutional right to have basic water needs fulfilled. Judge Toska also mandated 50 liters of water per-person-per-day, quoting Gleick’s argument for this amount as “appropriate for cleaning, hygiene, drinking, cooking, and basic sanitation.”

The Business Ethics Network works to improve the effectiveness of corporate campaigns worldwide in order to make business practices more ethical in terms of the environment, health, social justice, and labor. CALS promotes justice and equality in South Africa through research, teaching, and legal action. The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading nonprofits conducting research and advocacy to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Institute President Peter Gleick authored “The Human Right to Water” and “Basic Water Requirements for Human Activities: Meeting Basic Needs,” making the case that access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right supported by international law, declarations, and state practices.

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Nancy Ross
Pacific Institute