At the Alternative World Water Forum, the Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau (FAME) in French, water justice activists are providing a counter-narrative to the corporate-dominated World Water Forum, which “refuses to acknowledge” the recognized right to water and sanitation.
Water rights activists are slamming the World Water Forum as a “trade show” for “big corporations.” Food & Water Watch’s Wenonah Hauter states that the “World Water Forum is dead” while Maude Barlow declares their forum “pathetic.”
Speaking to the water rights activists at the alternative forum, Barlow says that it “is time for us to take our power” and that “we are the movement whose time has come.”
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Wenonah Hauter: Why World Water Forum “Solutions” Miss The Mark
Yesterday I walked around the “solution tents” at the 6th World Water Forum, which is more clearly than ever a trade show for the water industry to sell expensive services and products. Arranged as a “village,” the exhibit offered no vision for a future that addresses the source of pollution or the reason that millions of people lack access to water. From the tents labeled “factory” and “slum” to the “bank” and “library” exhibits, the failure to address the real problems was Kafkaesque.
[...] While multinational companies are benefiting from the oil, gold and cocoa in countries like Nigeria or Ghana, the residents of these countries providing this wealth are going without having their basic needs met. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund should start pressuring governments to tax multinational companies, rather than using their political power to force these governments to give tax breaks to multinationals.
It’s also time to start including pollution prevention goals at the forefront of the debate on solving the world water crisis. A forum that does not address pollution or real long-term solutions for providing everyone safe drinking water is not a venue for governments to participate in.
The World Water Forum is dead. Low attendance and a dearth of real solutions make it pale and anemic in contrast to FAME (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau), the Alternative Forum where thousands of people are gathering across town to discuss implementing the right to water. We are calling on the UN to stop kowtowing to industry and to start a process that looks at the real options for providing water for the thirsty—from the use of development money to the institution of a small charge on financial transactions. The global water justice movement is calling on the UN to hold the next global meeting on water in the fall of 2014.
The time is now for the UN and governments around their world to fulfill their duty and not to delegate it to corporations.
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At the World Water Forum, “the failure to address the real problems was Kafkaesque.”
Brent Patterson: The corporate World Water Forum is dead
[...] The challenges that remain are very real. The Ministerial Declaration of this World Water Forum purposely failed to affirm the United Nations recognized right to water and sanitation. This is a declaration that will be used to weaken other international statements on water and sanitation. It is also very clear that this first World Water Forum since the historic UN General Assembly vote on July 28, 2010 is trying to rewrite history, it is trying to erase the historical fact of the resolution that recognized these fundamental human rights.
While the World Water Forum may be dead, like a zombie, it doesn’t seem to understand that just yet. The World Water Council has already publicly stated that the next World Water Forum will take place in Daegu Gyeongbuk, South Korea (’winning’ out over Glasgow, Scotland).
But the water justice movement is actively discussing the idea of democratic, accountable, transparent, non-corporate, and people- and nature-centred international forum on the implementation of the right to water and sanitation to be held by late-2014, several months before the planned corporate gathering in South Korea.
And so while there are still challenges, two key facts remain. 1) The United Nations General Assembly has recognized the right to water and sanitation. 2) The United Nations Human Rights Council has affirmed that these rights are contained in existing human rights treaties and are therefore legally binding and equal to all other human rights. Given that the corporate forum refuses to acknowledge this reality, it’s even more clear, as really was always the case, that they are the ones out of step, and that the Alternative World Water Forum is the true and legitimate water forum!
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Streaming video of the opening plenary of FAME
Maude Barlow: “We are the movement whose time has come.”
Video streaming by Ustream