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NEWS: Pepsi’s questionable commitment to the right to water

A PepsiCo media release states, “PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation are deeply committed to respecting the human right to water and have publicly announced a global goal to provide access to safe water to three million people in developing countries by 2015… The PepsiCo Foundation (has) announced a $5 million grant to the AquaFund, a fund launched by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to facilitate investment in water supply and sanitation, water resources, and solid waste management and wastewater treatment.”

The media release also notes that, “PepsiCo Foundation is the first private sector donor to contribute to the AquaFund. A direct output of the landmark public-private partnership initiated last month between PepsiCo and IDB, the grant will fund a variety of projects, including but not limited to, microcredit loans for safe water and improved sanitation projects in Latin America, reaching approximately 500,000 people in the region by the end of 2015. …The first PepsiCo Foundation-supported AquaFund project will launch in Peru and others are likely to be implemented in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico.”

In May 2010, in response to PepsiCo’s announcement of a $1 million grant to five WaterHealth Centers in Ghana, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter stated, “This is yet another attempt by a large corporation to ‘bluewash’ their reputation. PepsiCo has faced extensive and well-deserved criticism around the world for depleting groundwater resources, undertaking unsustainable inter-basin water transfers and polluting water sources, all of which leave these local communities and ecosystems suffering from increased water scarcity and degraded water quality. Clearly PepsiCo makes unconscionable profits through the abuse and access to water in many parts of the world, and a small project in Ghana does not alter this terrible reality.”

They add, “A few years ago the people of Pudussery, India were able to get local authorities to revoke PepsiCo’s water license because of the company’s impacts on their groundwater. Others continue to fight, and these are the communities where PepsiCo can dramatically improve the quality of life for people by immediately stopping its unsustainable environmental practices. We call for people around the world to stand up for these communities and for water justice – and against these large multinational corporations wielding such immense power. Water is life.”

As for the Inter-American Development Bank, Barlow wrote in her book Blue Covenant that, “By the early 1990s, the Inter-American Development Bank (was) encouraging poor countries to let the big European water corporations run their water systems for profit” (p. 38), “promotes water privatization in much the same way as the World Bank” (p. 41), has promoted water privatization in Mexico (p. 107), and kept funding Suez in Argentina despite its terrible record there (p. 106).