On the Eve of Global Climate Strikes and Summit, Celebrities, Advocates and Grassroots Groups Call on UN to Endorse Worldwide Fracking Ban

Prominent activists, hundreds of groups urge U.N. to champion a global ban, call fracking a climate and human rights disaster

New York, NY – On the eve of international youth-led climate strikes and next week’s United Nations Climate Change Summit, nearly 460 grassroots groups, faith communities, celebrities, activists and organizations from across the world are calling on the United Nations to endorse a worldwide ban on fracking.

Actors Mark Ruffalo, Emma Thompson and Amber Heard, authors and activists Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Karenna Gore and Wenonah Hauter, fashion icons Vivienne Westwood and Joe Corré, human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, iconic childrens’ singer Raffi, climate experts Dr. Robert Howarth and Dr. Sandra Steingraber, and nearly 460 grassroots groups sent an open letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stating that the “continued production, trade and use of fracked hydrocarbons for energy, petrochemicals and plastics torpedoes our global efforts to tackle climate change and violates basic human rights.”

The letter was organized by the American advocacy organization Food & Water Action (FWA) and its European arm, Food & Water Europe (FWE), as well as the Breathe Project, a Pittsburgh-based clearinghouse for information on air quality in Pennsylvania. 

Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Action and Food & Water Europe, said: “In more than a decade of fighting fracking in the U.S., we’ve banned it in multiple states and made great progress elevating the issue globally. But there is much more work to do. The fracking surge in the U.S. has been a boon for the polluting petrochemical industry, which turns fracked gas into plastics. Our planet and our oceans are drowning in plastic and fracking companies are profiting. This needs to stop once and for all. We need a global ban on fracking.”

Banning fracking has been an urgent priority of climate activists for years. But it has recently moved onto the political stage as a key issue in the U.S. Democratic presidential race, with many top-tier candidates embracing the urgent call for a total ban.

“The climate emergency is a casting call for heroes, and we need everyone to show up. Step one is to stand up and say, loudly and clearly, that there is no place for fracking on a climate-destabilized planet,” said actor and longtime fracking activist Mark Ruffalo.

“Every well and every pipeline adds more methane and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and pushes us closer to the edge of the climate cliff.  The science demands, and our children demand, a global ban on fracking,” said actress and U.N. Human Rights Champion Amber Heard.

The signatories to the letter — including the Break Free From Plastic Movement, Friends of the Earth, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, European Environmental Bureau, Oil Change International, Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking, Support Centre for Land Change South Africa, Frack Free United, SumOfUs, Women Engage for a Common Future — point to the overwhelming scientific documenting the significant negative climate impacts of fossil gas and the environmental and disastrous public health implications of fracking.

“Fracking sounds nearly as ugly as it actually is. For the sake of the climate we need this obscenity to end right now!” said renowned author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben.

The letter also draws a direct line between fracking and the global plastic pollution crisis. As Food & Water Watch recently documented, a substantial amount of the gas drilling and related infrastructure being proposed is intended to use cheap fracked hydrocarbons to make plastic.

“Over the past decade, methane levels have been rising rapidly in the atmosphere, contributing significantly to the unprecedented global climate disruption seen in recent years,” said Cornell Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology Robert Howarth, whose research on methane leaks has shed considerable light on the climate impacts of fracking. “Over 60 percent of the increased global methane emissions are from the oil and gas industry, and shale gas development in North America is responsible for one-third of the increased emissions from all sources. Fracking for shale gas is a climate disaster.”

A number of United Nations bodies have weighed in over the years on the dangers of fracking. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESR) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have expressed concerns regarding the threat fracking represents for achieving the climate targets under the Paris Agreement and its impacts on human rights. And as early as 2012, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a “Global Alert” on fracking, concluding that it may have adverse environmental impacts even if done properly

As fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and environmental campaigner Joe Corré said: “Because fracking causes birth defects, in March 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) took the harmful environmental and climate change impacts of fracking seriously enough to strongly urge the British Government to completely ban fracking. It speaks for itself that this highly respected U.N. body saw this legislative measure as the only solution to protect the human rights of women in rural areas in Britain”.

“A decade ago, when there were only nine scientific studies on the impacts of fracking, some political leaders suggested that fracking might serve as a bridge to a stable climate. Now there are 1,800 studies, and the science is clear. Fracking is making the climate crisis worse,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD, biologist, co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. “Fracking is destroying drinking water and undermining human rights around the world. Fracking is harming health through toxic air pollution and supporting a polluting plastics industry that is killing our oceans. Our planet is on fire, but fracking is not an evacuation bridge nor a fire extinguisher. Fracking is an arsonist that needs to be stopped everywhere and right now.”

Prominent actress and activist Emma Thompson said: “Fracking is the fossil fuel world’s worst idea to date. It’s pointless, expensive, doesn’t create jobs that will serve a community, but it does pollute, damage and contribute to wrecking the climate. Its poisonous presence in our green and pleasant land is an affront to common sense, common health and the safety of the planet as a whole.”

“The climate crisis is the greatest ever threat to human rights. As the recent UN report on climate change and poverty makes clear, fossil fuel companies are the main driver of climate change and over-reliance on profit-driven actors in mitigating this crisis will almost guarantee massive human rights violations,” said human rights lawyer and barrister with Doughty Chamber Streets Jennifer Robinson. “What we really need is a global ban.”

The letter concludes by referring to the final advisory opinion of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, which recommended that fracking be banned, and that “the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment be asked to investigate the violations of the rights of humans and nature by the Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction industry.”

Open Letter


Andy Gheorghiu, Food & Water Europe: [email protected], 0049 160 20 30 974

Peter Hart, Food & Water Action: [email protected], 732-839-0871

European Water Movement – Food & Water Europe – Wasser in Bürgerhand 

The European Commission once again disappoints citizens that supported the Initiative for the Right to Water

Brussels, 31st January 2018. Today European water advocates said the leaked proposal for a new Drinking Water Directive is disappointing and doesn’t meet the expectations of the citizens and organisations that supported the first successful European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI) on the right to water. The review of this directive was framed by the Commission as their only answer to the ECI. Five years later, this draft doesn’t meet any of the demands supported by nearly two million people.

Elisabetta Cangelosi, member of the European Water Movement said, “Five years waiting for an answer and the result couldn’t be more disappointing. Although we welcome the timid attempt of the Commission to include provisions about universal access to water and the emphasis on minorities and vulnerable groups, this text has nothing to do with the human right to water recognized by the United Nations and demanded by citizens”.

The Human Right to Water as defined by the United Nations implies that water and sanitation must be physically accessible, safe, acceptable, sufficient and affordable. The draft Drinking Water Directive addressed just the first three aspects.

David Sánchez, director at Food & Water Europe added, “The proposal from the Commission simply ignores the main challenge for the Human Right to Water in the European context, affordability. With thousands of families having their water cut-off in Europe in recent years for not being able to pay the bills, guaranteeing access is not enough. We need political courage from the Commission to challenge private companies that make profit out of water management to really implement this human right in Europe”.

The proposal also includes provisions to promote free access to water in public spaces, including public buildings, but it falls short as this provision is not specific about it being tap water.

Jutta Schütz, member of Wasser in Bürgerhand added, “The Commission vague wording allows the interpretation that installing vending machines with bottled water would be enough. We need to close this gap so the Drinking Water Directive is coherent with the efforts to get rid of plastics at the European level such as the Plastics Strategy or the Circular Economy Package, and to challenge this unacceptable, environmentally-damaging industry”.


Elisabetta Cangelosi, European Water Movement, +32 488 08 00 21 (mobile), [email protected]

David Sánchez, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 485 842 604 (mobile), dsanchez(at)fweurope.org

Jutta Schütz, Wasser in Bürgerhand, +49 (0) 157 390 808 39 (mobile), [email protected]

The European Water Movement is an open, inclusive and pluralistic network whose goal is to reinforce the recognition of water as a commons and as a fundamental universal right. http://europeanwater.org/


Organizations denounce Nestlé’s new human rights impact assessment as a public relations stunt



Joint statement by Blue Planet Project, FIVAS, Food & Water Watch, and Public Services International

Brussels and Ottawa —Nestlé’s new human rights assessment, launched at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights last week, is full of holes say labour and civil society organizations, including the Blue Planet Project, FIVAS, Food & Water Watch, and Public Services International.

“The analysis is fundamentally flawed because it is a selective examination of corporate policy rather than corporate practice,” says Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project and chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch.

Nestlé’s “Creating Shared Value” program is touted in the report as a strategy to address the needs of impacted communities, yet as Barlow notes in her newly released book, Blue Future, there are significant discrepancies between Nestlé’s so-called values and its actual practice.

“One key Nestlé ‘shared value’ is the need for conservation of the world’s water,” says Barlow. “But this has clearly not been transmitted to Nestlé Waters Canada, which recently appealed a decision by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to impose mandatory reductions on water takings in times of severe drought.”

Furthermore, although the assessment involves the Danish Institute for Human Rights, it is a far cry from an independent analysis on the human rights impacts of Nestlé’s activities. The parameters for the assessment were set by Nestlé and involved a limited set of criteria that overlooked key areas including the human right to water. In addition, the bulk of the assessment was carried out by Nestlé field staff and final data vetted by Nestlé headquarters and executives in the countries where operations were evaluated.

“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck challenging the human right to water,” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. The company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.

In 2012, among the numerous grievances against Nestlé in this area, the award-winning film Bottled Life documented the conflict between Nestlé and the community of Bhati Dilwan, a village in Pakistan where local leaders and members of the community have accused Nestlé of draining groundwater resources to produce its Pure Life bottled water. A recent SumOfUs petition denouncing Nestlé’s activities in Pakistan received over 346,000 signatures.

Barlow also points out that while the report commends Nestlé for providing human rights training for security personnel in Colombia, it makes no mention of the fact that in 2009 a number of labour and human rights organizations launched a campaign demanding that Nestlé be expelled from the UN Global Compact for trade-union busting and child labour in Colombia.

In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances.

The organizations also denounce the growing role of Nestlé in shaping public policy through its involvement in multi-stakeholder bodies including the 2030 Water Resources Group, the UN Global Compact and the Global Water Partnership. 

“Nestlé has used its privileged position to promote greater private access to water resources and public water and sanitation services despite growing opposition to corporate control of water around the world,” says David Boys of the global union federation Public Services International.

Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino.

“Given the selective focus, limited scope and glaring omissions, the report cannot be seen as anything more than the company’s latest public relations stunt,” says Jorgen Magdahl of the Norwegian NGO FIVAS.

For more information, please contact:

Meera Karunananthan, Blue Planet Project, 613-355-2100, [email protected]

Gabriella Zanzanaini, Food & Water Europe, +32 488 409 662, [email protected]