The Alternative World Water Forum - FAMA, held from March 17th to 22nd in Brasilia attracted 7,000 people from almost every state in Brazil. FAMA sent a clear message that it would not engage with the opaque 8th World Water Forum, hosted by the private think-tank World Water Council and its corporate partners. The World Water Council has fostered pro-privatisation policy debates for decades.
On 9 October 2017, the Turin City Council turned back privatisation and took another step towards the remunicipalisation of its metropolitan water system. And so the city entered the next phase of its long march towards water sovereignty, begun in the aftermath of the Second World War on the ruins of a town half-destroyed by allied bombing and by Nazi/Fascist retaliations against the democratic popular resistance.
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 central government of Indonesia has repeatedly announced its intention to universalise access to clean water by 2019. To achieve this, an estimated 27 million new connections are needed, with a major investment gap of IDR 274.8 trillion (US$20.8 billion).
In recent years, various actors, from big foreign and domestic corporate business and finance to governments, have initiated a large-scale worldwide enclosure of agricultural lands, mostly in the Global South but also elsewhere. This is done for large-scale industrial and industrial agriculture ventures and often packaged as large-scale investment for rural development. But rather than being investment to benefit the majority of rural people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, this process constitutes a new wave of land and water ‘grabbing’. It is a global phenomenon whereby the access, use and right to land and other closely associated natural resources is being taken over - on a large-scale and/or by large-scale capital – resulting in a cascade of negative impacts on rural livelihoods and ecologies, human rights, and local food security.
As land is grabbed and earmarked in Africa for supposed development, there are nearly always implications for the water nearby, for local people's land and water rights and environmental sustainability.
Jun Borras, Jennifer Franco, Clara Mi Young Park, Mads Barbesgaard, Yukari Sekine, Ye Lin Myint, Thant Zin
02 March 2018
Dominant approaches to climate change mitigation are putting new pressures on small farmers and village dwellers, justifying dispossession by powerful actors who cast villagers' traditional ways of life as ecologically destructive or economically inefficient. In order to address the twin challenges of agrarian justice and climate justice, it is critical to understand the way new conflicts and initiatives intersect with old conflicts and the way they are compounded by undemocratic settings, and inequality and division along fault-lines of gender, ethnicity, class, and generation.
Northern African countries are key suppliers of natural resources to the global economy, from large- scale oil and gas extraction in Algeria and Tunisia, to phosphate mining in Tunisia and Morocco, to water-intensive agribusiness paired with tourism in Morocco and Tunisia. The commodification of nature and privatisation of resources entailed in these projects has led to serious environmental damages, and forced these countries into a subservient position in the global economy, sustaining and deepening global inequalities.
The hills of the Sperrins in County Tyrone are criss-crossed with natural springs that flow off the western slopes towards the River Foyle, while to the east they meander down to Lough Neagh. This endless trickle of water recalls the natural order – water belongs here. But the people of this remote area are struggling to protect it from an impending and devastating gold rush.
The island of Bali is home to a rich and unique system of agriculture, based around traditional water management systems developed over the last 1200 years. However, growing pressure from the expansion of the tourist trade as well as the effects of climate change are putting these systems at risk. Farmers are fighting to preserve their livelihoods and maintain a base for local food sovereignty in Bali, but significant changes to policy and practice are needed to protect their rights to land, water, and seed.
Global pressure on land and natural resources is mounting, with mainstream narratives about climate change often intensifying pressure to replace so-called "inefficient" users of land, including small farmers and pastoralists with market-based dynamics and actors. This dynamic makes the pursuit of socially just land policy ever more important and urgent, while at the same time creating new challenges. The fundamental connections and tensions between agrarian and climate justice must be reckoned with, and movements on both sides must deepen their understanding.
The Covid-19 pandemic has provoked widespread discussion of what kind of future the world should look forward to after the crisis. One of the areas of economic life around which there is spirited debate is the global food system. This paper focuses on how the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the corporate-dominated global food supply system and shown that it is not, as the Food and Agriculture Organization and its allied agencies see it, part of the solution.
The joint report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL in 2016 paints a rather grim picture of the extent of environmental crime worldwide. It identifies it as the fourth largest criminal enterprise globally, right behind drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. Two questions are worth pondering here: to quote George Monbiot, how did we get into this mess and what can we do about it?
An ethnocratic state produces a form of fascism in which the state supports the rights and welfare of the dominant ethnic group, but not others. By contrast, a tolerant multicultural state or plural society permits all people, regardless of ethnicity, to be recognised as equal members and thus achieves social justice. This comparison suggests that narrow nationalism is a chief source of the failure of Myanmar to become a modern and successful nation-state.
The Water Justice project, run jointly by TNI and Corporate European Observatory, is engaged in the work of building viable alternatives to water privatisation, focusing on how to reform public water systems in order to make the human right to water a reality for everyone.