Open letter to UN-HABITAT Save the global alliance for not-for-profit water partnerships


Civil society organisations, trade unions, public water operators together with International Steering committee members of GWOPA jointly send the open letter  to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT concerning the recent attempt to undermine GWOPA's core purpose, origin and history 


Opinion by


GWOPA 3rd Congress in 2015

The UN-HABITAT, a host agency of Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) has attempted to change the most important character of the GWOPA, such as its governance as an Alliance, and transform it into a mere UN-Habitat project disregarding its origin, history and accomplishments.

The GWOPA was born in 2009  to facilitate and foster not-for-profit water operator partnerships to improve capacity of public water operators. We have collectively campaigned for Public Public partnerships (PuPs) as a mean of realizing water for all, and as an alternative to PPPs/privatisation. Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) is not precisely the same as PuPs but share very important character and values (not-for profit, solidarity, mutual trust, capacity building etc). So from the beginning, Reclaiming Public Water network members have actively and critically engaged with and contributed to the GWOPA.

We the undersigned, organisations supporting the GWOPA mission would like to express collectively our great concern regarding UN-HABITAT’s recent conduct in GWOPA. 

We, civil society organisations, trade unions and public water operators applauded when the GWOPA was born in 2009 on the request of UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan after he had received the "Hashimoto Action Plan" from the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). We shared the conclusions of the “Hashimoto Action Plan”: over 90% of water and sanitation operators are public entities, and thus represent the same proportion of the available experience in running water services. By providing a vehicle to mobilise and share the expertise embedded in public water utilities, the GWOPA has held great potential for improving the institutional and human capacity to increase access to water and sanitation. The GWOPA has been a unique international platform to support public utilities through not-for-profit peer-to-peer partnerships.

We argue UN-HABITAT to renew acknowledgement of GWOPA’s mandate for strengthening public water operators through Water Operators’ Partnerships and uphold the participatory and inclusive nature of GWOPA as a multi-stakeholder Alliance with full recognition of the leadership of the International Steering Committee, Chair, and the principles and decision-making processes.

Read the open letter (download)

On 8 November 2017, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller sent his open letter (download)  to Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Members of GWOPA International Steering Committee and donors. 


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