Blog Posts

September 25th, 2012

The First European Citizens’ Initiative: Water is a Human Right

WaterIsAHumanRight

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Update: On the 10 December 2012, mayors from Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Genoa, Ghent, Leicester, Nantes, Naples, Paris and Vienna have joined forces with civil society and trade union campaigners to call for the implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation into European Law.

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Have you heard of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI)? It’s a new tool launched by the European Commission to help citizens play a more active role in European political processes. Available since April 2012, it enables citizens to put an issue on the political agenda through an “ECI,” which involves collecting 1 million signatures from at least seven different EU Member States.

Not only do you need 1 million signatures, but an ECI has to be organised by at least seven people from seven different EU Member States. This group forms a so-called citizens’ committee, which is in charge of proposing the ECI and collecting signatures.

The first ECI approved by the European Commission is on the human right to water. Led by the European Public Services Federation, the citizens’ committee is formed largely by public service trade unions and supported by a broad variety of organizations working on implementation of the human right to water.

Food & Water Europe is working to support and promote this ECI because governments in the EU have to meet their obligation to provide water and sanitation services to all. The human right to water and sanitation means that all people are entitled to clean and safe water and sanitation. These services must be available, accessible, affordable and acceptable for the people. Currently, the criteria for clean and safe water and sanitation differ widely among and even within countries.

Read the full article…

September 21st, 2012

Why It’s Time for a Global Frackdown


By Mark Schlosberg

The oil and gas industry knows it has a fracking problem. Oil and gas companies and their apologists are spending tens of millions of dollars on misleading propaganda touting the supposed benefits of fracking and natural gas as a so-called “bridge fuel.” They are spending millions more lobbying elected officials to open new lands to fracking. They are even trying to convince the public that natural gas is clean energy.

Tomorrow, communities across the world are fighting back with one unified message: our movement is growing, our movement is strong, and we do not accept fracking and its impacts on our water, air, health and communities. It’s time to ban fracking now.

Read the full article…

September 17th, 2012

Video: Global Frackdown, September 22, 2012

By Mark Schlosberg

The Global Frackdown will unite people on five continents in over 100 events on September 22 to call for a ban on fracking in their communities, and to advocate for the development of clean, sustainable energy solutions. Initiated by Food & Water Watch, over 150 consumer, environmental and public health organizations including CREDO Action, Environment America, Democracy for America, Friends of the Earth and 350.org are taking part in the Global Frackdown.

Endorse the Global Frackdown.

Don’t forget to check out the frackdown on Facebook and Twitter.

September 13th, 2012

Are We Soon to Be Up the Carbon Market Creek?

By Mitch Jones and Rich Bindell

FoodandWaterEuropePollutionTradingIn his speech to the Democratic National Convention last week, President Obama promised that he would support a plan that, “will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax.” While climate change is not a hoax, the most popular approach to climate change is little more than a shell game. Although market-based solutions to climate change, such as cap-and-trade, are touted as the future of greenhouse gas reduction, we know they hold little promise of actually reducing pollution.

As California prepares to launch its cap-and-trade carbon market and the European Union and Australia plan to link their carbon markets to each other—a clear attempt at going global—a lot of countries are already buying into this market-based solution. But, is this a plan that actually reduces pollution, or is it merely big businesses trading credits for the opportunity to pollute?

In California, their carbon trading plan is moving quickly, welcoming all types of businesses, not just energy plants and factory farms. But, in addition to the potential risk of price volatility and fraudulent credit exchanges, they are attempting to link carbon emission trading to other environmental issues, including forest offsets, with the California REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) offset program. Read the full article…

August 7th, 2012

Are You Down With the Global Frackdown?

By Mark Schlosberg

On September 22, people across the world will be coming together for a day of action — a Global Frackdown — to call for a ban on fracking to protect our communities. Will you join us?

Drilling and fracking for natural gas and oil poses a direct and immediate threat to our drinking water, air, health and communities. Over the past couple of years as our movement has grown, the oil and gas industry has been ramping up its massive multi-million dollar PR campaign to convince the public and elected officials that its dirty energy is clean. Its time to fight back with a Global Frackdown!

As a movement to ban fracking, we have collectively achieved a tremendous amount. Working together just in the past year, we have: passed over 200 local measures across the United States to ban fracking, stopped fracking in Bulgaria, France and the state of Vermont, pushed for moratoriums in multiple regions in Europe, obtained a moratorium on fracking in South Africa, defeated state legislation that would have expanded fracking (like stopping plans to open the Delaware River Basin to fracking) and worked to stop pipelines and facilities to export fracked gas from coast to coast.

This fall, the oil and gas industry will be escalating its pro-fracking propaganda even further and our elected officials — some of whom are running scared — need to hear the truth in a powerful way from their constituents. It’s time to expose the oil and gas industry’s propaganda for what it is. It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable. It’s time for a Global Frackdown!

Communities are already coming together to organize actions as part of the Global Frackdown. From New Mexico to North Carolina and California to New York, events are being organized across the United States. In Europe, actions are already being planned in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden and Belgium. They’ll include flash mobs, rallies, human signs calling for a ban on fracking and screenings of Gasland. In the coming weeks, these events will be put on a map at www.globalfrackdown.org, but in the meantime, you can go here to sign up an event in your community.

The Global Frackdown is supported by Food & Water Watch, Environment America, Democracy for America, 350.org, Friends of the Earth US, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace USA, Global Exchange, Ecologistas en Acción, Council of Canadians, Josh Fox (whose film Gasland has fueled the movement), and a host of other organizations across the world. Organizations large and small can add their name to the growing list of partners here.

Building on the powerful Stop the Frack Attack action in Washington, D.C. last weekend, three major events are happening in the U.S. over the next two months. From August 25-27, people will gather in New York to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to not allow fracking in New York. On September 20 and 21, our friends at Protecting our Waters are organizing Shale Gas Outrage to protest a major industry conference in Philadelphia. And the Global Frackdown will follow on September 22.

Our opponents get their power from their deep financial resources and their ability to divide us. We have the power of our voices, our communities and our collective action. The next couple of months promise to be a powerful, unifying and exciting time for our movement against fracking. Add your voice to this effort and Get Down with the Frackdown — take action to ban fracking on September 22.

May 7th, 2012

You’re Invited…To Occupy the World Water Forum

By Walker Foley

With the clock ticking down to the sixth World Water Forum in France, Food & Water Watch encourages you to Occupy this shameless marriage of corporate water lobbyists and our global leaders.

We are dealing with a global water crisis due to the mishandling of our resources, which has left one in eight around the globe without access to clean water.  Water is necessary for life – it is a basic human right – but organizations like Veolia and Suez don’t see it that way.  Instead, water is a commodity, ready to package and sell.  All over the globe these organizations are manipulating the debate and using their influence to rewrite government policy on access to clean water.  The World Water Forum is just another means for these corporations to sit down with our politicians behind closed doors.   Read the full article…

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…

April 27th, 2012

5 Reasons a “Global Cattle Drive” to China Is a Bad Idea

By Wenonah Hauter

The Wall Street Journal reports that China is importing 100,000 heifers — 25 ships’ worth — to boost domestic dairy production in the wake of melamine and other milk-powder scandals that have decimated China’s relatively small dairy industry since 2008.

Where to begin? There are so many problems with this scenario, but here are just five reasons why this is a terribly bad idea:

1) The cows are destined for factory farms. China may be importing the cattle from Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand, but they are importing the model for factory farming from the U.S. The animals’ long nightmare starts on a harrowing journey overseas in ships, where they are confined tightly and face multiple health issues that may result in death. Those buried at sea might be the luckiest cattle, because once the animals get through the 45-day quarantine, they will continue their confinement in “football-field-size sheds” that resemble electronics factories more than farms and are milked three times a day on “bovine merry-go-rounds,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Frangos. Read the full article…

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…

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