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April 25, 2017 – 3:15pm

A letter I sent to the organizers of the Citizens’ Process at the World Water Forum, April 25, 2017.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to participate in the preparatory meeting for the World Water Forum’s “Citizens’ Process” that is taking place today, April 25 in Brazilia. I understand that this meeting is part of the World Water Council’s effort to coordinate global civil society organizations in advance of the World Water Forum taking place in 2018 in Brazil.

I am writing to explain why I and the undersigned organizations will not be accepting the invitation to participate at this meeting or in any future process associated with the World Water Forum.

As global water justice organizations, we have long opposed the role of the World Water Forum in promoting the privatization and commodification of water. The World Water Forum is not a legitimate policymaking space. It is a corporate trade show organized by the World Water Council – a multi-stakeholder consortium promoting solutions to the water crisis that serve the interests of multinational corporations.

We are appalled that United Nations agencies and governments from around the world would lend any credibility to the World Water Forum as a decision-making platform by participating in it. Public funds should not be spent on mega private sector conventions.

We call instead for a genuinely democratic global forum that will address the global water crisis by promoting policies aimed at implementing the human rights to water and sanitation and protecting freshwater as part of the global commons.

Water policies should not be discussed or drafted behind closed doors at expensive corporate trade shows. Multinational corporations whose actions are responsible for the destruction of watersheds or for the denial of access to the most vulnerable populations must not be rewarded with a seat at the decision-making table.

As water justice advocates we will not lend our voices to the corporate policy forum by participating in the event or in any of the preparatory processes. Instead, we will support activities organized by local Brazilian groups in solidarity with campaigns challenging the Temer government’s agenda to sell off public water and sanitation utilities and freshwater supplies in Brazil.

Sincerely,

Maude Barlow
Chair of the Council of Canadians and Founder of the Blue Planet Project

Co-signed by:
Food and Water Watch (USA)
Food and Water Europe
Red Vigilancia interamericana para la Defensa y Derecho al Agua (Américas)
Plataforma de Acuerdos Público Comunitarios de Las Américas (Américas)
Public Services International
The Transnational Institute
Focus on the Global South (Asia)
Fundación Abril (Bolivia)
Chile Sustentable (Chile)
Censat Agua Viva (Colombia)
Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila (Colombia)
Corporación ECOFONDO (Colombia)
Red Nacional de Acueductos Comunitarios de Colombia (Colombia)
Red de Mujeres Ambientalistas del Departamento del Meta (Colombia)
Red de Acueductos Comunitarios de la Región Caribe (Colombia)
Red Territorial de Acueductos Comunitarios de Bogotá y Cundinamarca (Colombia)
Asociación Departamental de Acueductos Comunitarios de Antioquia (Colombia)
Federación de Acueductos Comunitarios del Valle del Cauca (Colombia)
Asociación de Acueductos Comunitarios de Boyacá (Colombia)
Instituto Mayor Campesino (Colombia)
Proceso Articulado de Acueductos Articulados de los Departamentos de Meta, Guaviare y Casanare (Colombia)
Bloque Popular (Honduras)
Coalición de Organizaciones Mexicanas por el Derecho al Agua, COMDA (México)
Asociación de Usuarios del Agua de Saltillo AUAS, AC. (México)
Mujer y Medio Ambiente (México)
Colectivo Educación para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos A.C. (CEPAZDH) México
Federación de Trabajadores del Agua Potable del Perú (Perú)
EYATH Trade Union (Greece)
SOSte to Nero (Greece)

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Maude Barlow was joined today by water justice organizations around the world who are denouncing attempts by the World Water Forum to co-opt critical voices by setting up a Citizen’s Process to ostensibly encourage civil participation. The organizers of the 2018 World Water Forum that is to be held in Brazil, are hosting a preparatory […]

 

April 7, 2017 – 7:31am


Retired teacher Roy Brady helps those attending the OTPP annual general meeting understand what it means to lose access to water.

Council of Canadians Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter activist Roy Brady called on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) at their annual general meeting in Toronto yesterday afternoon to commit to a strategy to divest from private, for-profit water and sanitation services in Chile.

The OTPP administers the pensions for 178,000 public school teachers, principals and school administrators, and pays pensions to 117,000 retirees.

In 2007, the OTPP began investing through its Chilean Unit, Inversiones OTPPB Chile II Limitada, in Chilean water and sanitation services. In 2011, it increased its shares and is now the majority shareholder in three major Chilean utilities making it the largest investor in Chilean private water and sanitation services.

The intervention at yesterday’s annual general meeting was co-organized by The Council of Canadians and the Blue Planet Project.

Brady, a retired teacher, says, “Ontario teachers have a long history of protecting public services in Canada. That should extend to water services in Chile too. Does the OTPP expect different standards for Chileans?”

Meera Karunananthan, the director of the Blue Planet Project, adds, “There is growing evidence that private water and sanitation services fail communities. Around the world, we have seen for-profit water corporations raise tariffs, cut off poor households and cut corners when it comes to environmental and public health measures. The situation in Chile is no different.”

Currently, two of the OTPP-owned companies – ESSBIO and ESVAL – are under investigation for mass shut-offs that left hundreds of thousands without water. ESVAL is also under investigation for providing water that did not meet safety standards to more than 30 million people. Local farmers are also challenging ESVAL arguing the company is accessing more than its share of water during periods of drought. And the third OTPP-owned company – Aguas de Valle – is facing a class action lawsuit for a series of illegal actions infringing on the human rights to water and sanitation including unscheduled cut offs, billing irregularities, poor water quality and failure to comply with compensatory measures.

Teachers in Ontario are encouraged to send an email to Ron Mock, the President & CEO of the OTPP, to call on him “to engage Chilean utilities in a transition to public management and ownership of water and sanitation services.” To do so, please go to this online action alert.

To read more about the situation, click here.

The Council of Canadians first began opposing the OTPP’s investments in Chilean for-profit water utilities in 2010.
 

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Two of the worlds most prominent environmentalists and leading experts on water have written to Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Water, urging her not to support metered charges for so-called ‘excessive use’. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project, wrote […]

 

Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project, sent a letter today to Governor Fernando Pimental of the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil urging him to halt all plans to sell a state-run water park. The region is famous for its mineral waters, which is reputed as the most pristine source of water in […]

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