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Barlow speaks at IASC conference in Bern

Barlow speaks at the Blue Communities session at the IASC conference in Bern today. Photo by Andrew Davis.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke at the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) conference at the University of Bern today.

The conference is titled – Commons in a “Glocal” World: Global Connections and Local Responses.

Barlow took part in two sessions today:

1- Blue Communities, Collective Action for Self-Declared  Principles of Resource Governance – Potentials & Limitations of Supporting Institutional Frameworks and Public–Public Partnerships

This session was convened by Andreas Kläy (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern) and also featured Bergson Cardoso Guimarães (Ministry of Public Affairs, Brazil), Nardi Suxo Hurry (Ambassador of Bolivia (UN, Geneva)), and a Representative of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

2- Is the Right to Water and Sanitation Supported or Undermined by the New Mega Trade Agreements TTIP, TPP, TISA, and CETA?

At this session, Barlow presented on ‘A Right to Water perspective on CETA, TTIP and TISA’. Other speakers included Rodrigo Polanco (World Trade Institute, University of Bern), Michael Nanz (FIAN, Switzerland), and Christiane Fürst (World Trade Institute, University of Bern).

The University of Bern was founded in 1834 and is the third biggest university in Switzerland. Numerous notable people have been professors at the university, including Albert Einstein. In September 2013, Barlow was in Bern to present a certificate recognizing the university as a blue community.

This is reflected in the conference program which notes, “In the panels, at coffee breaks and receptions we do not offer privatized bottled water. In collaboration with Refiller and Blue Communities we provide tap water and reusable cups. Please always return the cups so that we can reuse them.”

The program also highlights, “Blue Communities were initiated by the Council of Canadians as a local and global movement for water security and justice. Since 2011, the initiative has attracted a growing number of communities in Canada. In  2013, thanks to the  international networking of Maude Barlow, it successfully made the jump to Switzerland when the city of Bern and the University of Bern declared their commitments as Blue Communities. Brazil also adopted the movement in 2014 under the name Cambuquira. In this way, Blue Communities have emerged worldwide as self-declared, collective actions on behalf of local resource governance, which simultaneously take account of international interrelations and responsibilities. Together, Blue Communities represent a growing global initiative to defend water as the foundation of life, a protected human right, and a common resource that must not fall prey to trends of privatization and commodization.”

Barlow will also be giving a keynote address at the conference on May 13 titled, “Our Water Commons, Protecting Water for People and Nature Forever”.