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UPDATE: The Council of Canadians challenges the World Water Forum

The Council of Canadians has been challenging the World Water Forum for more than 12 years. What is the World Water Forum? Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow explains, “The World Water Forum is convened by big business lobby organizations like the Global Water Partnership, the World Bank, and the leading for-profit water corporations on the planet. The discussions focus on how companies can benefit from selling water to markets around the world. While governments are present, they are not in charge.”

Past World Water Forums

2000, The Hague: Our intervention here can be read in a Canadian Perspectives article by Barlow at http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2000/CP_Summer_00.pdf (pages 8-9). Barlow has also written, “5,700 people were at this conference. Had it not been for the initiative of the Blue Planet Project, launched by the Council of Canadians in the year 2000, and allied groups like Public Services International, the vast majority of the delegates from countries around the world would have been exposed only to the dominant message – and sadly incomplete picture – provided by the global water corporations.”

2003, Kyoto: Our presence was documented in this Canadian Perspectives article by Anil Naidoo, Guy Caron and Laura Coletta, http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2003/spring/water_forum.html. Barlow has noted, “Our strategy, planned with civil society groups in Japan, was to accept all formal venues to present our alternative vision, to bring our colleagues from the global South to tell their stories to the participants and the media and to work with Japanese civil society to build a strong support for public water systems, of which Japan has one of the best in the world.”

2006, Mexico City: A Canadian Perspectives article by Sonia Vani on our actions here can be read at http://canadians.org/publications/CP/2006/summer/WWF.html. Barlow has written, “Rather than try to influence the official forum, the water justice movement decided to stage its own events, beginning with a 35,000-strong march held the first day of the World Water Forum. One thousand activists and academics also attended an alternative peoples’ forum, the International Forum on the Defense of Water, organized by the Mexican human rights coalition COMDA.”

2009, Istanbul: Meera Karunananthan’s blogs on this intervention can be read at http://canadians.org/water/issues/World_Water_Day/WWF_blog.html. A speech by United Nations General Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto delivered by Barlow at this forum, now attended by 20,000 people, said, “The forum’s orientation is profoundly influenced by private water companies. This is evident by the fact that both the president of the World Water Council and the alternate president are deeply involved with provision of private, for-profit, water services. (Future forums should) conduct their deliberations under the auspices of the United Nations.”

2012, Marseilles: We are participating in the organizing of the upcoming Alternative World Water Forum (in French, Forum Alternative Mondial de l’Eau, or FAME), which will take place on March 14-17, 2012. The website for the alternative forum is www.fame2012.org. More soon.