While TTIP is currently attracting the most attention, more trade agreements are looming. In July, world leaders holed themselves up in back rooms to discuss TiSA, an extensive service agreement intended to put (public) services, like the water supply, in the hands of the international market.
At UN meetings in Addis Ababa, private finance has been touted as key to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals, but campaigners argue that public finance is more reliable and more likely to secure the human right to water for all.
The corporate-controlled World Water Forum in Istanbul has been marked by repression of protestors, but also strong resistance to pro-privatisation policies from both civil society and some Southern governments.
Drinking water delivery in most EU countries is exclusively or predominantly run by public utilities, but internationally the EU advocates water privatisation. The problem lies in the European Commission’s strong tendency to identify itself with the interests of large EU-based corporations.
The EU is the largest water donor in the world, providing € 1.4 billion of development aid per year. This Corporate Europe Observatory report looks at how the EU uses this funding to promote private sector water management.
As thousands of water specialists gather in Stockholm for World Water Week, there will be a lot of discussions around technical and efficient delivery of water but too few conversations on the nature of water as a public and democratic good.
A group of activists celebrated the right to water in front of a public water fountain in the centre of Brussels on 27 July. The occasion was the one-year anniversary of the UN's recognition of right to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation as human right.
In the last 15 years there have been at least 180 cases of water remunicipalisation in 35 countries, both in the global North and South, including high profile cases in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.