On February 25, Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow will speak at the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water & Sanitation are a Human Right’ event at the Federal Chamber of Labour in Vienna, Austria. The Chamber of Labour is an organization that represents the interests of 3.2 million Austrian employees and consumers.

The European Commission is being asked to propose legislation that implements the human right to water and sanitation as recognized by the United Nations and that promotes the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all. This is being requested through the European Citizens’ Initiative, a new tool for participatory democracy in Europe that has been available since last April. Basically, citizens can put an issue on the European political agenda by means of an ECI, which involves collecting 1 million signatures from at least seven different European Union Member States.

Yesterday, the campaign announced that they had reached 900,000 signatures, just short of the 1 million required for the human right to water to be put on the European political agenda. But to ensure that they have more than 1 million valid signatures, they have set a new target of 2 million signatures for September 2013.

This ECI on the human right to water and sanitation is supported by the European Federation of Public Service Unions, which represents 275 trade unions and over 8 million workers in all kinds of public services in Europe. It is endorsed by numerous other groups including the Blue Planet Project, Blue October, and the Council of Canadians.

For more on this campaign, please see http://www.right2water.eu/. Campaign blogs highlighting this initiative can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16408 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15245. To read ‘Our Right to Water – case studies on austerity and privatisation in Europe‘, a report commissioned by the Blue Planet Project, go to http://canadians.org/RTW.

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