Blog Posts: March 2012

March 20th, 2012

Why the Water Justice Movement Was Denied Equal Press Access at the World Water Forum

By Wenonah Hauter

Last week, we sent a letter to World Water Forum organizers asking to hold a press conference there about the fact that Veolia, Suez and Saur—among the biggest private water corporations globally—are being investigated for price fixing in the EU. After all, the forum organizers claimed that their space is open to all opinions. We believe that it’s important the attendees know that Veolia, Suez and Saur have longstanding ties with the World Water Council, the force behind the Forum. And after all, AquaFed, the lobbying group for private water companies, along with dozens of other economic interests at the forum held official press conferences.

Of course, it’s no big surprise that we were denied access to the forum infrastructure for our press conference.

Their answer as to why our request was denied was somewhat entertaining. They said it was “unethical”.

At the end of his letter, Mr. Benedito Braga, President of the International Forum Committee, called our attempt to use the Forum’s  “infrastructure” “unethical” on the grounds that Maude Barlow and I refused to participate in the debate on public/private involvement in the provision of water services. It’s true that we declined to debate, telling them that they needed to hear from someone representing the Global South whose community had been impacted by privatization first hand, and we suggested an activist from the Philippines, Maria Theresa N. Lauron (who did a great job at the debate).

As expected, the forum turned us down because they are not a legitimate or participatory body on global water policy. They have an agenda, and our message undermines their plans to profit from water services.

If our effort to show the forum’s true colors was “unethical”, then the water industry’s use of the forum to make profit off of the billion people that lack access to clean water is a downright travesty.

March 8th, 2012

Why Will Activists Be Protesting the World Water Forum?

By Darcey Rakestraw

The United Nations recently reported that a key UN goal of halving the proportion of people lacking access to clean drinking water has been achieved five years early. This news comes on the eve of the 6th World Water Forum next week in Marseille, France with the theme, “Time for Solutions.” Despite the rosy outlook the UN report suggests, activists are sounding the alarm that we’re not on the right path—and that no one should be confused about the dangers of letting corporations guide water policy.

Certainly, activists and the corporate-backed World Water Forum don’t agree on solutions to address the nearly one billion people without access to clean water and 2.6 billion who lack proper sanitation. The forum was conceived by the World Water Council, which promotes itself as an “international, multi stakeholder forum”. Its web site touts the tagline, “A global water movement for a secure world”. 

But the World Water Council’s strong ties to large multinational water companies like Suez and Veolia, who are currently under investigation in the EU for price fixing, have led activists to view the Council and it’s tri-annual World Water Forum as a means of furthering the industry’s influence over the development agenda. This includes promoting market-based tools like water markets, pollution trading, and other schemes by which corporations can both profit off of—and keep polluting—an increasing scarcity of clean water. Read the full article…

March 7th, 2012

Food & Water Watch Europe: What We’re Working On

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Just days before the opening of the World Water Forum in Marseille, campaigners are getting read to attend the Alternative event taking place in parallel during the corporate Forum.

The European Coordination of the Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) — including Food and Water Europe – EPSU – AQUATTAC, Belgian Social Forum and CNCD — organized a public hearing at the European Parliament in light of the Resolution that the European Parliament is debating on March 15th regarding the World Water Forum. Meanwhile, the Alternative event today has more than 1500 registered participants while the corporate event struggles to arrive go over the 2000 participants despite the huge corporate and government funding. Read the full article…

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