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.
The Indonesian Supreme Court ordered termination of water privatization and restoration of public management to ensure human right to water. We stay vigilant for transparent and accountable transition.
Projects protecting Jakarta against floods are likely to damage the environment and could threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. The Dutch government, supporting these projects, should question how it balances its interest in supporting Dutch companies with its stated policies of sustainable and inclusive development.
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.
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)
International Water Justice community sent the petition to the Supreme Court of Indonesia. Residents of Jakarta filed a citizen lawsuit against water privatisation in Jakarta at Central Jakarta District Court in November 2012. They argued in the lawsuit that water privatisation failed to fulfil the residents’ access to safe water, caused a series of corruptions and financial harm to the public budgets. In March 2015, the court ruled in favour of the residents, annulling the contract agreement with two private water operators. It was a significant victory of people. The decision, however, was challenged by these private companies and other defendants. Unfortunately the residents lost in the High Court in February 2016. Jakarta people decided to challenge the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.
In Mexico, a 2012 constitutional amendment recognised the human right to water, requiring a new national water law. Coordinadora Nacional Agua para Tod@s Agua para la Vida has proposed the citizens' bill, which has been developed through a nation-wide bottom up process. It connects local grassroots struggles against privatisation, water resource contamination, indigenous peoples, and urban popular movements for access to, and local control over, water resources. Important local water struggles in Puebla, Guadalajara, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Ramos Arizpe, Saltillo and Mexico City are the background of this national mobilisation. The citizens' bill ambitiously addresses sustainable water basin plans and democratic water service provision in an integrated way.
The New Urban Agenda will be adopted in the UN-Habitat Conference III in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. Water Justice groups submitted the proposals to the Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) secretariat, which coordinates a consultation for Water for Water Stakeholders Stakeholders.
UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is preparing a report on development cooperation and the human rights to water and sanitation. The focus of the report will be on the human rights obligations of bilateral and multilateral donors in extending grants and loans, providing technical and programming support and policy advice to developing countries. The report will examine existing policies and their guidance on human rights to explore to what extent existing policies and approaches reflect human rights and how these are implemented in practice. The Special Rapporteur, Leo Heller encouraged civil society organisations to answer the guided questions. The undersigned water justice organisations submitted the following contribution to the Special Rapporteur.
A return to public forms of administration in water supplies is a phenomenon that has been spreading globally. Over the past 15 years almost 235 cities around the world, among them Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur have either terminated or have desisted from renewing the contracts with private concessionary companies. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, for example, water delivery is, by a tradition, almost 100 percent public.
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 water management situation in the region of Catalonia, Spain is catastrophic. The omnipresence of the private water sector is creating hugely negative impacts at the economic, social and environmental levels. As a result, Catalan municipalities are being swept by the wave of water remunicipalisation that is taking place across the globe, and the drive to recover public management of water systems is gaining force.
Public water operators and social movements from 90 countries gathered in Barcelona in mid-September to reflect on how to consolidate a public model of water provision and how to address critical issues of financing clean water for all.
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 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.