European Commission fails to take real steps towards the recognition of the Human Right to Water



The European Water Movement regrets that the European Commission decided not to take real actions, ignoring 1,9 million citizens

Brussels – The European Commission (EC) made public today the communication on the European Citizen’s Initiative on the Right to Water. The communication fails to respond to 1,9 citizens asking for a legislative provision excluding water and sanitation from “internal market rules” and liberalization. The EC’s reaction is lacking in real legislative proposals, and it boils down to a compilation of already ongoing actions plus the announcement of a public consultation on the drinking water directive whose outcomes will not be binding.

While the Commission acknowledges the importance of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation and it confirms water as a public good, the EC fails to propose legislation that recognizes this right. The Commission also commits to promote universal access to water and sanitation in its development policies, including the promotion of public-public partnerships.

Water and sanitation services were excluded from the concession directive thanks to public pressure, but the Commission has not committed in its Communication to explicitly exclude these services from the trade negotiations (such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP).

The answer of the European Commission to the first European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) to achieve the required support will not reassure European citizens who question the democratic legitimacy of the European institutions. The European Water Movement (of which Food and Water Europea makes part) considers that overall the Communication does not address the actual demands to guarantee the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, and implies a bad precedent for the future of the ECI mechanism.

Water privatization remains a very concrete menace in the EU. In countries like Greece and Portugal, the Troika is pushing for water privatization, and more and more citizens are being deprived of water access in municipalities where water supply is managed by private companies. In line with the signatures collected for the Initiative, citizens are fighting against water privatization across the EU, with many examples of massive mobilizations in Italy with the 2011 binding referendum, the local consultations in Madrid and Berlin, more recent mobilizations in El Puerto de Santa María (Spain) and upcoming local public consultations in Thesaloniki (Greece) or Alcazar de San Juan (Spain). 

Water should be a commons, not a commodity. The European Citizen’s Initiative expected the European Commission to propose legislation implementing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation as recognized by the United Nations, and to promote the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all. The European Water Movement will continue to support local struggles in places such as Thesaloniki or Alcazar de San Juan to ensure that water is declared a common good. And it will remind candidates in the elections for the European Parliament of the importance of recognizing that water is a human right, to concretely act towards its implementation and to avoid liberalization and commodification of water and sanitation services. 

For more information:

David Sanchez, dsanchez(at), +32 485842604

Caterina Amicucci, camicucci(at) +39 3498520789

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network of movements, social organizations, local committees and unions whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right, an essential element for all living beings. We are part of the global water justice movement. We are united to fight against privatisation and commodification of this vital good, and to construct a public and communal management of water, founded on the democratic participation of citizens and of workers.

REDD+ Offsets Don’t Add Up



New Food & Water Europe Report Shows Why Use of International Forest Offsets Won’t Reduce Carbon Emissions
Brussels — Developments in the United States may lead to the adoption of international forest offsets being permitted in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). California’s newly launched carbon market is considering allowing offsets from REDD+ programs while at the same time the state is considering linking its market with the EU’s. California would be the first carbon market to allow international forest offsets. A new report, Bad Trade: International Forest Offsets and the Carbon Market, released by Food & Water Europe today, demonstrates that international forest offsets should not be allowed into any carbon market because they don’t encourage emission reductions at the source, but instead privatize natural resources, present opportunities for corrupt offset trading, and threaten the livelihoods and resources of indigenous communities.
Forest offsets would allow for a polluter in one location to pay for the protection of a section of forest in another location anywhere in the world, based on the idea that trees, which absorb carbon, can offset the emissions of the polluter. This methodology puts a financial value on the prevention of deforestation and degradation, essentially turning areas in countries with heavy forest cover into a financial opportunity for corporate greed.
REDD+ offsets lead to the financialization and privatization of nature. In addition, forests usurped into REDD+ programs become off-limits to the indigenous communities that have lived there for decades and have sustainably managed the forests without financial incentives.
“California’s attempts to allow international forest offsets could force Europe to adopt the same standards,” said Gabriella Zanzanaini, Director of European Affairs for Food & Water Europe. “Linking carbon markets to international forest offsets is essentially financializing nature, which could lead to corporate and governmental land grabs, displacement of indigenous peoples from their homes, and possibly the creation of a counterfeit offset market that grants credits without actually protecting forests.”
You can view the Food & Water Europe report Bad Trade: International Forest Offsets and the Carbon Market or download a PDF version here:
Contact: Rich Bindell, Food & Water Watch, +1 202-683.2457, [email protected]