The Guardian reports on various controversial comments recently made by Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck.
It notes, "Brabeck was in Davos to chair the council meeting of the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG), a cross-sector collaboration of business, government and civil society, which is seeking to find practical solutions to the crisis of water scarcity. The success of early initiatives in countries such as South Africa and has led to a stream of governments approaching the WRG for advice and support, including Bangladesh, Kenya, Lebanon, Colombia, Panama and Lebanon."
In her book Blue Future, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow writes, "Peter Brabeck uses his role with the World Bank's Water Resources Group to promote commodifying the world's water. The group's strategy is to insert the private sector into water management, one country at a time, through a combination of industry-funded research and direct partnerships with government agencies, reports Corporate Accountability International. In order to be eligible for funding, all projects must provide for at least one partner from the private sector. This violates the World Bank's own goal of poverty alleviation, its stated commitment to the right to water and sanitation, and it's rules on transparency."
The article comments, "While scientists point to the near certainty that human activity is driving up temperatures, (Nestle chairman Peter) Brabeck argues that it is largely down to Earth's natural cycles, and warns against trying to play god by seeking to stop global warming. Instead, he believes society should focus on adaptation."
It reports that Brabeck says, "Climate change is an intrinsic part of the development of the world. Since the world has existed we have had climate changes and we will have climate change as long as the world exists ... For me the issue is more about what can we do in order to adapt to climate change and perhaps to try to gain more time … Are we God to say the climate, as it is today, is the one we have to keep? That's the way it's going to be? We are not God. What we have to assure is that climate change happens within a timeframe that humankind can adapt to. ...If too much CO2 emission is accelerating climate change in a manner that will take away the possibility for us to adapt to it then we have a problem, but what I think is wrong to say is that we are going to stop climate change today. It's not the natural approach. What we have to get to grips with is the speed with which climate change is happening and to have the same speed for us to adapt to it."
While Brabeck argues for adaptation, we have argued for climate justice and the need to take actions to limit climate change. Barlow says, "The displacing, mistreating and abusing of water is a cause of climate change. We need a restoration strategy for water as a key mitigation factor."
There is no doubt that climate change and water scarcity are interrelated. Just last month, Climate Progress reported, "Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (have) determined that 1.5 percent of the global population currently struggles with absolute water scarcity, and 3 percent faces chronic water scarcity. At 1°C of warming that rises to 6 percent and 13 percent, respectively; at 2°C it hits 9 percent and 21 percent; and at 3°C it reaches 12 percent and 24 percent of all people around the world. ...Without drastic corrective action, and soon, the world is actually on track to blow past the 2°C of global warming scientists view as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly catastrophic.”
Water as a human right
Brabeck says, "(Campaigners) used an old video of 2005 of me and cut it down in the manner that it was most suitable to them. To say that I have said water is not a human right is the biggest lie I have heard. I have been fighting for water as a human right for hydration and hygiene since the beginning but I have always said this is 1.5% of the water that we are using. There is no doubt this is a human right and it is a right that has to be assured by governments. But this has nothing to do with the irresponsible usage of water of the other 98.5% of it."
Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan has commented, "Since the United Nations officially recognized water and sanitation as a human right through a resolution at the General Assembly in 2010, corporations like Nestle whose revenues depend on access to scarce water resources have been scrambling to write the rules. Brabeck’s prescription of protecting 1.5% for basic human needs while leaving 98.5% up for grabs for corporations to purchase, is a recipe for disaster rather than a solution to global water scarcity. Big corporations naturally prefer market-based distribution mechanisms that would allow them to purchase water without environmental assessments or public oversight. In this time of scarcity, we urgently need sound environmental policies and strong regulation that would prevent overuse and abuse to ensure that the human right to water is protected for future generations. It would be absurd to sell off 98.5% of our water to big industries under the assumption they will somehow value and protect it in on our behalf simply because they have paid for it.”
Barlow adds, "Brabeck's positioning of himself as an expert on the global water crisis is of particular concern, given the influence he wields on water policy through his advisory role with governments and the World Bank. It is one thing to capitalize on the global water crisis by selling bottled water, but another to promote privatization of water services and water trading from a position of power."
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ACTION ALERT: Tell the U of A that Nestlé Chair Peter Brabeck-Letmathe doesn’t deserve an honorary degree