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UPDATE: Blue Planet Project at Berlin summit on water pricing

Food and Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter writes, “Last week I was in Berlin at the Global Water Summit 2011, a meet up for corporations that want to profit from water as it becomes scarcer. (The summit was) sponsored by all the bad actors in the water industry, from Veolia to General Electric… My colleague, Anil Naidoo from the Council of Canadians, and I were invited to the meeting to debate the libertarian economist David Zetland and William Muhairwe, managing director of Uganda’s national water company. Both Zetland and Muhairwe are big proponents of full-cost pricing and dismissive of the government’s role in providing water.”

“Some may wonder why Anil and I would go there to debate, especially when the audience was comprised of people employed in the water industry. The truth is that there is no better place to really figure out what they are up to. An hour debate was a small price to pay for free entrance to the $2,500.00 event that gave us real insight into the newest plans of the global water cartel. …The last event of the conference was the debate, which was a real set-up because the attendees got to vote on who won. Now really—is it any surprise that we lost 75% to 25%? Anyway, Anil and I knew we won the debate on the merits and ethics of our arguments.”

“On the bright side, our allies from the German water justice movement were outside defending the global commons. The activists are well organized and have had a recent victory. Twelve years ago part of the Berlin water system was privatized under a secret contract with Veolia and RWE, which resulted in a 35 percent rate increase while service actually deteriorated. A citizen’s initiative called the ‘Berliner Wassertisch’ began challenging this and successfully organized a winning referendum aimed at obtaining the publication of the secret contracts that violated German law. Anil and I joined the demonstrators during the time that the attendees left in big buses for a Gala Dinner.”

Hauter concludes, “Pricing water like a widget is inhumane, inappropriate and subjects the essential human need for water to the indifference of the marketplace. The only long-term solution for achieving universal access to water is to make it a public service and to use tax dollars to finance water infrastructure. It’s an appropriate, necessary, and common role for government. And the global justice movement believes it’s worth fighting for.”

To read her full report, go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/the-next-big-thing-in-industry-water-profiteering/.