From the Forward, by Maude Barlow:
For years, many human rights, social justice and environmental groups, as well as grassroots communities around the world fighting for their right to water, have decried the growing influence of big water corporations at the United Nations. For-profit utilities, bottled water companies, water industry associations and companies investing in private water services are all exerting strong influence on the UN agencies and policies that affect billions around the world. Many of us have long expressed concern that this corporate influence has steered the UN to more market-oriented solutions to the global water crisis and have opposed UN agencies being drawn into deeper involvement with the World Water Council, a corporate-serving body that often seems to speak for governments in its policy iterations, but really represents the interests of the private sector.
For me, these concerns were solidified when, in 2008/2009, I served as the Senior Advisor on Water to Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly. During that time, I observed closely the deepening influence of the private water sector in many areas of the UN. I also observed the fact that there is no corresponding UN authority representing the interests of governments and people relating to water policy, and no overall responsibility, accountability or vision as to how to address the water issues in the context of sustainable development by the General Assembly. Interestingly, in meetings with most of the major UN agencies responsible for water research and policy, many officials expressed their own concern about the growing corporate culture in defining water policy at the UN, but related the growing influence of the private sector to the lack of funding and interest in their work on the part of governments.
When my term ended, I knew that it was essential to uncover more information on this topic. So we invited Julie Larsen, an environmental and international researcher with extensive international experience, to write a detailed report on the influence of the private water sector at the UN. We are very proud to make this report and Julie’s recommendations available to the public so that UN agencies, the General Assembly, member governments, the media and the global water justice movement can assess this influence for themselves and make more informed decisions and strategies when working for change at the UN and elsewhere.