Maude Barlow and the Lord Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter celebrate the city's commitment to the Blue Communities Project. Photo: Olaf Becker/München
Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project and honorary chairperson of the Council of Canadians welcomed four German cities to the Blue Communities Project this week. The Blue Communities Project is a global initiative aimed at promoting local policies that recognize water and sanitation as human rights, keep water and sanitation services public and stop the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities.
The city of Augsburg voted on October 24 to become a Blue Community after a visit from Barlow earlier in the week. Augsburg is the fourth city so far to adopt the project in Germany. Municipal water provision in Augsburg dates back to 1412 when the first wooden water tours were built. The city is applying to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its historic public water management systems.
Augsburg TV produced a story (in German) about Maude's visit to the city.
On October 23, Barlow was in Berlin at a ceremony where Senator Regine Gunther, officially signed onto the project on behalf of the city. She was joined by Dorothea Harlin of the Berlin Water Table, Jorg Simon, CEO of Berlin Waterwork, and Christa Hecht Executive Director of the German Association of Public Water Operators. Hecht has been a driving force of the Blue Communities movement in German and was one of the main organizers of Barlow’s tour in Germany.
In 2013, Berlin made history by terminating a contract with Veolia for drinking water services Veolia. The city had previously bought back shares from the private consortium RWE after many years of strong public opposition to the privatization of drinking water services. Today the German city is taking it a step further through the Blue Communities Project.
Barlow was joined by the Lord Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter at a public event at the Marienplatz. The Lord Mayor spoke out against the privatization of water and of the importance of the human right to water before officially pledging his city’s commitment to the Blue Communities Project.
The city first voted in favour of the Blue Communities Project in October 2017 through the leadership of the Munich Wasser Allianz, making it the first German Blue Community. Barlow’s visit allowed for the campaign to be officially and publicly announced.
The city of Marburg also voted to become a Blue Community in July 2018.
As Barlow notes, the Blue Communities Project in Germany is led by local community activists who aim to send a strong message about local opposition to the privatization of water services and the commodification of water resources.