The 2015 World Water Forum is being held this week in Daegu-Gyeongbuk, South Korea. At a press conference in Daegu on April 12, the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) was joined by allies from around the world as they denounced the forum for cementing corporate water interests in the region.
The French transnational water corporation Veolia Environment – a company with a dismal human rights and environmental record – is among the corporations playing a prominent role at the forum. According to KGEU, Veolia has taken advantage of the event to forge ties with the Korean and local governments.
The preparations for the forum have consolidated the interests of water profiteers over the past year. Veolia took on a contract in 2014 as a consultant for Daegu-Gyeongbuk in order to promote reforms to the water utility. Consultation services are part of a strategy by Veolia to promote its needs through political channels before taking over a public water utility. On April 8, the Korean government announced a plan to facilitate greater private investment in water throughout the country and established new guidelines that would see local governments raising water rates by up to 90% or lose their government subsidies.
Held every three years, the World Water Forum is a water industry trade show and corporate-driven policy forum organized by the World Water Council – a consortium that brings transnational corporations and governments together to promote neoliberal water policies. The global water justice movement has long opposed the World Water Forum for granting corporations privileged access to policymakers behind closed doors. Despite some activities being open to all, registration fees are prohibitive for grassroots organizations and the general public. In addition, a number of “high-level” events are closed to civil society and general participants, but open to corporate participants.
The Blue Planet Project, the Transnational Institute, Public Services International, Globalization Monitor and a number of other international groups are joining KGEU and Korean social justice and environmental groups at an alternative forum this week that will showcase local struggles against privatization and public sector solutions.
The Korean Government Employees Union represents 140,000 workers, but continues to be denied legal status by the South Korean government because their membership includes workers who were wrongfully terminated for engaging in union organizing activities. The International Labour Organization and Public Services International are calling on the Korean government to legalize the union immediately.
Here are a few ways to virtually join the protest against Veolia and the World Water Forum:
1. Send a message to the World Water Forum/World Water Council @wwatercouncil using the hashtag #WWF7
Public water and sanitation is a human right
The WWF7 is a corporate trade show: we call for a public forum on the human right to water
No more corporate water forums: we need transparent, public participatory discussion on the global water crisis
Our water is not for sale
The World Water Council does not speak for me
Water is not a commodity
Stop the corporatization of water
2. Send a message to Veolia on twitter @Veolia and on facebook.
Sample tweets/fb posts:
Veolia out of South Korea
Veolia out of Daegu Gyeongbak
Hands off Daegu Gyeongbak!
For more information: 5 reasons to say “no” to Veolia in Dae-gu and Gyeongbak