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NEWS: Water justice movement set to challenge ‘the Davos of water’

The Inter Press Service reports, “Organisers of the Alternative World Water Forum (known by its French acronym FAME), which will take place simultaneously as the World Water Forum, see the Forum as an outmoded apparatus, lagging woefully behind a growing movement for ‘water justice’ around the world.”

“‘If the right to water was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on July 28, 2010, it is not thanks to the (World Water Forum). Rather, it is thanks to our fight and to social movements,’ Jean-Claude Oliva, water expert and active participant in FAME, told IPS. He criticised the failure of the 2009 WWF in Istanbul to include ‘access to water’ as a basic human right in its final declaration, a formula demanded primarily by a block of Latin American states.”

“Though it has been announced that the upcoming Forum will officially recognise this right to water in its next declaration, many believe that this is simply a media strategy, designed to co-opt the idea as its own and appear more inclusive of civil society. …However, these moves have done little to change the Forum’s reputation as ‘a Davos of Water’, said Laurent Flety, local organiser with FAME, referring to the World Economic Forum that is notorious for being a talking shop, resulting in little concrete action.”

“Indeed, one of the primary objections to the WWF is that its decision makers often defer to private companies to make critical decisions about water distribution; numerous CEOs, including the heads of multinational titans like Coca-Cola and Nestlé, have been invited to address attendees at high-level panels. ‘They (WWF) calls upon the private sector to solve the problem and we refuse this because (corporations) will privatise and monitor water all over the globe,’ Kim Lê Quang, a Belgian representative of FAME, told IPS.”

“In contrast, FAME will gather over 1000 people from at least 50 countries around the world to share their experiences of public management of water resources. They aim to pressure governments to include the right to drinking water and sanitation in national constitutions, as a means to ensure the implementation of the right to water as a basic human right.”

The Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, political director Brent Patterson, water campaigner Meera Karunananthan, and Blue Planet Project organizers Claudia Campero Arena, Mary Galvin and Madhuresh Kumar will be present in Marseille to challenge the ‘Davos of water’.

And just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled in his Davos speech an agenda of health care and pension cutbacks, the Council of Canadians and CUPE noted in a recent media release that his government appears to have blocked the inclusion of right to water language in the World Water Forum ministerial declaration, http://canadians.org/media/water/2012/02-Mar-12.html. Canada and the South Pacific state of Tonga are the two remaining countries that have refused to recognize the right to water and sanitation.

For our World Water Forum campaign web-page, which includes blogs, updates and much more, please go to http://canadians.org/wwf. This web-page also notes our interventions against the World Water Forum over the past decade, beginning with the World Water Forum meeting in The Hague in 2000.

To read the full IPS article, go to http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106979.