March 20, 2009

Please see below a letter to the editor from Maude Barlow that was published by the Globe and Mail this morning. Also, be sure to tune in to The Current on CBC Radio this morning to hear her talk about the World Water Forum.

March 20, 2009

So the Harper government's effort to win a seat on the UN Security Council could be hampered by its decision to transfer aid from Africa to Latin America (CIDA Cuts To Africa Could Hamper UN Ambitions - March 16). There is an additional concern: I believe the Harper government should be denied a seat on the UN Security Council until it formally recognizes water as an international human right, a right it has rejected at the UN Human Rights Council.

Unsafe water and sanitation are the source of 85 per cent of all disease, and one in every six people on Earth has no access to clean drinking water. A UN covenant would clarify that it is a state's responsibility to provide sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water to all of its citizens.

March 19, 2009

Please see below the media release issued by the Council of Canadians this morning.


Istanbul / March 19, 2009 - The President of the United Nations General Assembly has told delegates at the World Water Forum in Istanbul that, "We must work quickly to guarantee that access to drinking water constitutes a fundamental right of all peoples..."

In a speech delivered by his senior advisor on water Maude Barlow, UN president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said, "Those who are committed to the privatization of water, making it a commodity like oil, are denying people a human right as basic as the air we breathe."

Ms. Barlow, who is also the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, delivered the president's message to the People's Water Forum, a counter-forum being held by hundreds of civil society members from nearly 70 countries whose voices have not been at the WWF. The speech was later released to the World Water Forum, which is being attended by 20,000 delegates from 150 countries.

March 19, 2009

Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow will be interviewed live from the World Water Forum in Istanbul tomorrow, Friday March 20, by CBC Radio.

The Current is broadcast weekdays at 8:30 a.m. (9:00 NT) on CBC Radio One and on Sirus Satellite 137.

It will also be available later as a podcast at (We will also send around that audio link.)

The Council of Canadians team of Maude, Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo, and water campaigner Meera Karunananthan have been doing an extraordinary job on our behalf in Istanbul.

Be sure to read Meera's blog from the World Water Forum at

March 19, 2009

A new report from Corporate Europe Observatory notes that, "Judging from all available sources, the European Union appears in fact to be pushing for including water in trade agreements whenever possible."

Their report notes various bilateral trade talks the EU have been pursuing with developing countries and states, "Even the simple question of whether the EU is pushing for including water and sanitation services in these FTAs is kept from public scrutiny."

Their report also notes, "In February 2003...the EU’s requests to third countries were leaked and (it) became public that the EU was asking 72 countries to ‘liberalise’ their water services, providing unlimited market access and ‘national treatment’ for foreign firms. Many of the countries targeted had public-managed water sectors. The EU’s demands were clearly aimed at advancing privatisation to benefit the EU corporations that dominate the world’s private water markets."

March 19, 2009

AlterNet reports that, "Each (World Water) Forum pretends to be a quasi-United Nations event, to the extent of issuing a Ministerial Statement at the Forum's close promoting global policy approaches to water and sanitation."

"This year, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly, requested to be given an opportunity to publicly address the World Water Forum, but received no response from the Forum's organizers."

The article continues, "Concerning d'Escoto's effective exclusion, Maude Barlow, his Senior Advisor on Water, said, 'The Forum portrays itself as a UN event. But the President of the UN General Assembly was denied the opportunity to speak. We could hardly have a more clear message about the Forum's priorities.'"

This morning Maude delivered a speech on behalf of the UN president to the People's Water Forum, a counter-forum being held by hundreds of civil society members from nearly 70 countries whose voices have not been at the World Water Forum.