Several thousand people have gathered for the opening ceremony of FAME (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau/ Alternative World Water Forum) at ‘Dock des Sud’ in Marseille, France.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is on stage now with numerous water justice activists including Oscar Olivera, Anne Le Strat and other movement leaders.

FAME is the people-centred, water justice-focused counter to the illegitimate World Water Forum.

This is also the first alternative water forum held since the historic United Nations General Assembly resolution recognizing the right to water and sanitation on July 28, 2010.

Speakers are emphasizing that the right to water and sanitation must be defended and implemented; that the ‘green economy’ is a threat to the right to water; and that the World Water Forum represents the wrong model.

In her speech just now, Barlow highlighted that the water justice movement has grown with every alternative water forum over the years - and that the World Water Forum is “pathetic”, lacks the heart and spirit of this gathering, and that its time has passed.

She said that the win at the UN General Assembly was not expected when it came, but that it was truly a peoples victory that came out of years of struggle.

She noted that a new threat was the drive to commodify every tree, fish and nature itself and that we must resist this.

Barlow concluded - to growing applause from the audience - that the movement is strong, it is growing, and that we will never give up the fight for water justice.

More speakers are now talking about the threat of water privatization, union support for the right to water, the role cities can play to advance the right to water, and how water is life.

A 6-minute video of Barlow’s speech will be posted at www.canadians.org and www.blueplanetproject.net as soon as possible.

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