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Barlow in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Forum logoToday Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow gave a keynote speech to about 600 people and media at a conference called The International Forum of Environmental ‎Management in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre City, Brazil.

Barlow tweets:

She raises these issues in her book Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever including: the growing threat of desertification in Brazil (page 16); the impact of virtual water exports (page 168); and the use of water for the production of biofuels (page 177-79). In her book, Barlow also highlighted Brazil’s support for the UN resolution on the right to water and sanitation (page 31); its non-participation in bilateral investment treaties (page 230); and its fast-tracking of approvals for water use for mining and other unsustainable water intensive practices (page 260).

Barlow also tweets, “Warned Brazilians that big corporate interests are setting up to plunder and control their water, especially the Guarani Aquifer.”

The Guarani aquifer, located in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, is one of the world’s largest aquifer systems and is an important source of fresh water. Barlow has previously warned that, “Water is being extracted from the aquifer faster than it can be recharged with the resulting problems of high salt levels and reduced water pressure, which could render the extraction process very difficult in the future.” She has also noted, “Heavy metals, toxins from the mining and forestry industry, urban sprawl, poorly treated sewage, phosphorus, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, and multi-point contamination combine to spill a witch’s brew of poison into the water sources of the Mercosur countries. The Guarani is under threat from contamination and the situation is urgent.”

She has said that a covenant is needed based on the principles that the waters of the Rio Plata and the Guarani Aquifer:

  • are a “Common Heritage” that belong to all the people of the region and to future generations and must be managed by governments for the wise use of all;

  • are a human right and priority must be given to providing water services to those currently without them;

  • have rights in and of themselves beyond their use to humans and must be respected and protected.

On Saturday, Barlow will be in Cambuquira, a city of 14,000 people located in the state of Minas Gerais. Its municipal council supports the principles of the blue communities project and Barlow will be making a formal presentation of a blue community certificate to them.

Further reading
Maude Barlow’s speech in Florianópolis, Brazil
The right to water and sanitation in Brazil
Cambuquira, Brazil a blue community