Sisters Work for Human Right to Water

sisters of st joseph of carondelet

The Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment (MCRI) believes that God gives water in abundance or in drought, but it is lack of human stewardship that makes a scarcity.  

This scarcity is a Global Water Crisis according to the U.S. Intelligence Community (Atlantic Monthly, 2012/May).  By 2025, the global demand for fresh water will outstrip a reliable supply in parts of the world such as North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and even the United States.

MCRI’s  14 members and six associate members continue to press corporations to be better managers of water use, recycling, and restoration.  They ask companies to adopt a policy for the Human Right to Water, especially if they are operating in water scarce regions.  

MCRI Coordinator Sister Barbara Jennings, CSJ says,  “If a company says they recycle 616 million gallons of water in a year, we ask how much they did not. If a company says they are restoring groundwater, we ask what independent third party is verifying this? If a company says they are proactively assisting with water projects in regions where they operate, we ask them how much is the company spending and who is benefitting.”

In the past year, MCRI has taken many actions to hold companies accountable for their practices that effect the global water crisis. Some of these actions include:

Ameren UE

MCRI filed a resolution asking Ameren to disclose more information on their efforts to identify and reduce the health and environmental hazards of their water releases into rivers .  They agreed to withdraw our resolution in exchange for data from Ameren on contamination and hot water releases. 

Arch Coal, Inc.   

After a 44% vote in MCRI’s 2011 resolution, the company promised to report out more fully on their water treatment using bioreactors at their Mountain Top removal sites.


Monsanto has declared water use a central focus, but has not written or adopted a Human Right to Water policy.  MCRI filed a shareholder resolution in early August 2012 asking for data and transparency in their water management with particular concern about their measurements of water availability before they establish business in Africa, Asia, and South America. Monsanto promised to increase their reporting by bioregion and their Corporate Social Responsibility Report of May 2013 did improve, including efforts in Africa.

The group’s work to protect the human right to water done on the local level has global effect.“St. Louis sits at the confluence of three mighty rivers, but we cannot take fresh water for granted,”  says Sister Barbara. “As faith-based people, we hold water to be sacred and integral to life on this planet.  We hold ourselves accountable for our use of water, and expect business of all types to do the same.”

As members of the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment (MCRI), sisters from St. Louis communities (including the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet) accept the challenge to the faith community to address issues of corporate social responsibility, by working for justice in and through economic structures and for care of Earth and its resources.

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