Monday, March 12, 2012

Food and Water Sovereignty:Water Rights Groups Blast Corporate-Dominated Water Forum / Common Dreams

"Untamed privatization will lead to a disaster”

As the World Water Forum gathers in Marseille, France, for its 6th meeting since 1997, water rights activists are criticizing the corporate-led, profit-motivated gathering as a move for global control of water.
Shayda Naficy, senior organizer of Corporate Accountability International's Challenge Corporate Control of our Water, slams the forum as a platform for corporations to push their privatization efforts:
The World Water Forum is another tool in the corporate move to shift policy debates to opaque, elite forums insulated from broad democratic participation, asserting market assumptions as a starting-point for water policy. Since its 1997 inception, the WWF has been a lightning-rod for international protest, as a prime example of corporate interference with water governance. Organized by the private trade association, the World Water Council, in conjunction with host governments, this year’s Forum will be held in France, the home of the two largest water corporations, Suez and Veolia. While the movement to reclaim public control of water has made major strides in France in recent years, most notably with the 2010 transition of the Paris water utility back to public control, the Forum location of Marseille remains a stronghold for the private water industry, and the home turf of the World Water Council.
Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch, criticizes the core mission of the forum:
“Water and sanitation have been recognized as human rights. The challenge now is to have governments implement these rights as quickly as possible now. It’s a poor starting point for the World Water Forum to fail to recognize these fundamental rights.”
Portuguese member of Parliament: “Whoever controls water controls a great source of power and of course a great source of profit.”
Euractiv reports:
At the last forum in Istanbul in 2009, police battled protestors opposing private management of water utilities. The issue resonates this year in austerity-driven European countries – including Greece, Portugal and Spain – where authorities have mapped out plans to sell state assets and utilities to address budget and debt woes.
“Whoever controls water controls a great source of power and of course a great source of profit,” João Ferreira, a Portuguese member of Parliament from the European United Left group, said Tuesday at a Brussels meeting called by FAME organisers.
“This resource cannot be managed privately … and untamed privatisation will lead to a disaster,” Ferreira said.
To provide an alternative conference emphasizing water as a human right, activists have created the Alternative World Water Forum. This group states that:
The next World Water Forum presents itself as a "Forum for solutions" as usual. These solutions are about making water more expensive and about having more paying customers. The issues should be about guaranteeing access to water and sanitation services.
In its focus on access to water and sanitation services, the Alternative Water Forum explains:
The objective of the Alternative World Water Forum (AWWF) – in French, the Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau (FAME) – is to create a concrete alternative to the sixth World Water Forum (WWF) which is organized by the World Water Council. This Council is a mouthpiece for transnational companies and the World Bank and they falsely claim to head the global governance of water.
For several years, different civil society movements have fought side by side for water conservation and citizen management of water. Activists have created platforms, propositions and campaigns at events such as the 2003 Alternative Forum in Florence, the 2005 Alternative Forum in Geneva, the 2006 Alternative Forum in Mexico or the 2009 Alternative Forum in Istanbul and within international Social Forums such as those in Porto Alegre, Caracas, Nairobi, and Belem. These gatherings helped solidify the movement to reappropriate water, a communal resource which belongs to all of humanity.
Viva Economic Justice!!!!
Michael “Waterman” Hubman
Aggregating and posting for Economic Justice             

Friday, January 13, 2012

U.S. Launches Mission to Privatize Water in India: By Wenonah Hauter / AlterNet


U.S. Launches Mission to Privatize Water in India

The U.S. Water Trade Mission to India to secure the entry of U.S.-based corporations into the lucrative Indian water market has Indian water activists seething.
March 2, 2011  |  
Despite the failure of private water providers to deliver expected results or improve equitable access to water, the U.S. continues to try and export the idea that private companies are best poised to deliver water in the 21st century. Its latest attempt to do so is the U.S. Water Trade Mission to India, a move that has Indian water activists seething.
In a petition organized by the Peoples’ Campaign for Right to Water-Karnataka, the activists appeal for the mission to leave, noting, “Instead of responding to the basic water needs of people…successive state governments [since] the late 90s have been happily signing up one project or another with international banks and foreign governments to privatize every aspect of their constitutional responsibility of providing clean potable drinking water to all.” In an email sent out by another group, Pani Haq Samiti Mumbai, the mission is a “clear plan to convert basic human need of domestic water into business product and privatize the water distribution and treatment processes presently handled by local public bodies.” The group is organizing a massive protest of the mission on March 3.
The stated objective of the trade mission is to secure the entry of U.S.-based corporations into the lucrative Indian water market, estimated at $50 billion. This mission follows on the heels of years of investment by USAID in water sector reforms that have laid the groundwork for private sector participation.
So, what’s wrong with this picture? The promotion of water markets and the commodification of water will come at the expense of the traditional idea of water as a public good and a natural resource, to be shared by all. In the end, the principles of equity and ecological sustainability will be sacrificed for profits.
Furthermore, the behind the scenes meetings the trade mission is arranging between the U.S. executives and the Indian representatives and officials represent a more fundamental attack on the idea of community control of natural resources. The corporations’ attempts to capture control of water resources for private profit will come at the expense of local populations and the fundamental human right to water, a right recognized by both the United Nations General Assembly and the Supreme Court of India. (In an ironic twist, the UN’s independent expert on the human right to water Catarina de Albuquerque is touring the U.S. this week to identify stumbling blocks to the provision of water here in the world’s richest nation.)
These behind the scenes discussions, which involve little input from affected communities, are far removed from the principles of democracy and transparency that the U.S. Government purports to represent globally. Hopefully the demonstration of the Indian people will show the U.S. leadership that local participation in how their water resources are managed is critical to success, and reinforce to them that communities want water safeguarded as a human right, not a commodity.