WCC NEWS: “Water means life,” says German advocate for sustainability.

Andrea Müller-Frank works as the Right to Food officer at the Policy Department of the German Bread for the World. Since December 2016 she has been co-chair of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), which fights for water justice worldwide.

At university, Andrea Müller-Frank did her global studies with regional foci on Europe and Africa, concentrating on development cooperation and the globalization of social movements.

This likely stands her in good stead for her role working for water justice as co-chair of the EWN International Reference Group, to which she was elected in December 2016.

“Water means life – for people and animals and our entire planet,” Müller-Frank said in an interview. “However, in many regions of the world it is overused, groundwater levels fall and natural vegetation and water circuits are destroyed.”

Before joining Bread for the World, the German Protestant development service that is part of the Act Alliance, in September 2015 Müller-Frank worked in lobbying and communications for different civil society organizations and networks. Some of the issues she engaged in were related to public health and environmental protection in Mali.

“I was also engaged as an advisor to lobby and advocacy campaigns of the West African Fisheries Federation and the food campaign of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in West Africa,” explains Müller-Frank.

She notes that, “We cannot overcome the hunger and poverty in the world without changing our life styles and our economic activities. Raising awareness for this is a key objective of the work of Bread for the World.”

Germany is the world’s third biggest virtual water importer, just behind the United States and China. And Brazil is the number one exporting country of virtual water to Germany, especially agricultural products – soya bean, for the meat industries, coffee, sugar and biofuels, Müller-Frank says.

“Also, more than 20 percent of the paper and cardboard used in Germany comes from Brazilian eucalyptus plantations. In parallel to the increasing consumption of paper by popular mail-order services in Germany, monoculture plantations destroy natural vegetation with disastrous consequences for water resources in Brazil,” she says.

More and more water flows into the industrial production of food, the production of consumer goods and energy. Through wasting, contamination, weather extremes of climate change, lack of water has become a curse to many people who regularly suffer from droughts, floods, pollution.

Water conflicts between communities and countries are on the rise and are causing migration and wars. It is a major concern for all of humanity. Issues of distribution, social and environmental justice are at the heart of the solution to end the protracted water crisis.

“Many churches and faith-based organizations in Germany are concerned and labor on the issue of food and water justice,” says Müller-Frank.

“Beyond the celebration of creation worship, churches encourage a lifestyle that upholds the core values of justice and sustainability – the ‘ethics of sufficiency’ or the ‘ethics of enough’. Many churches and faith based organizations maintain social and environmental procurement practices and engage in dialogue with policy makers.”

Explaining her affirmation and vision for the EWN, she said, “the network is a powerful vector and raises awareness of the ongoing human rights violations towards vulnerable populations and expose their claims for sustainable solutions.”

“The network together with  Bread for the World can provide visibility and room for political engagement for its partner organizations grounded in local level struggles laboring for sustainable farming practices and food security”, she added.

14 March 2017