Nearly 7,000 people from more than 30 countries, and from almost every Brazilian state, gathered at the Alternative World Water Forum (FAMA) from 17 to 22 March 2018. The purpose of this mobilisation was to challenge the legitimacy of the World Water Forum, which is organised every three years by the private think-tank World Water Council together with its corporate partners.
While water privatisation continues to be imposed throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, more and more communities are demanding public management of water and wastewater services and forcing out private actors. On World Water Day we bring you 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim control over this essential resource.
Spain maybe on the edge of a remunicipalisation renaissance, with all the relevant legal, financial and technical issues attracting surprisingly intense interest throughout the state. These trends in Spain provide inspiring examples for other countries too, in Europe and worldwide. On 1st December Barcelona City Council organised a remarkable conference on the topic.
A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics – in particular for a subway line connecting the sports venues. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae)
Water Justice organisations from around the world jointly produced an online water justice toolkit to consolidate our knowledge base and support local campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.
After 18 years of underperforming private management, water services in Jakarta could be returning to public management to guarantee the human right to water in accordance with the Central Jakarta District Court ruling of 24 March 2015, which annulled the current contract agreements.
The question of how to finance water and sanitation is crucial. Leading international institutions emphasise the role of private finance despite major concerns. The idea that private finance can bring the needed investment is remarkably persistent in global policy circles and leads to a dangerous lack of attention to the far more realistic option of mobilising public finance for infrastructure to provide essential services for all.
Public-private partnerships were heralded as a solution to the millions who still lack access to water, but after two decades the evidence is in: they have failed. An unprecedented surge of cities is now bringing water back under public control.
The largest Public-Private Partnership in water sector in Germany ended in 2013 after the longstanding social mobilisation. Remunicipalisation cost a high price for the city of Berlin though. Berliners have striven for new challenges.
Despite large aid support, Ghana's privatised water utility AVRL consistently failed to meet its contractual commitments. Water is now back in state hands, but it will need increased investment and a vigilant civil society to deliver the services Ghanaians need.
Already subjected to the consequences of the European and Greek debt crisis and the resulting austerity measures, privatisation will continue to hit Thessaloniki hard. In a referendum the people voted overwhelmingly against water privatisation. While their struggle continues, they look upon the crisis as an opportunity to intensify the search for democratic alternatives.
The Greek government and its creditors seem bent on imposing policy whose economic merits and democratic legitimacy seem rather dubious. A French company is especially active among the candidates for privatizing water in Athens and Thessaloniki: Suez Environnement.
TNI and other civil society organisations, in an open letter, have denounced the European Comission's admission that it imposes water privatization conditionalities as part of its 'rescue' package to crisis countries.