Our Team


Koni Benson

Koni Benson is an historian, organizer, and educator. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Her research focuses on mobilisation, demobilisation, and remobilisation of struggle histories in southern Africa’s past and present. Committed to creative approaches to linking art, activism, and African history, she works with various archives and collectives coproducing histories of struggles for public services/the commons across southern Africa’s past and present.  She co-convener of Revolutionary Papers, a transnational research and teaching project working with anti-colonial movement materials and Know Your Continent, a popular education African history initiative. Previously she spent eight years working with social movements and trade unions as a research educator at the International Labour Research and Information Group, and as a researcher organizer for the Blue Planet Project supporting campaigns against the privatization of water on the African continent. She is a founding member of the African Water Commons Collective and part of the African Ecofeminist Collective. She is author of Crossroads: I Live Where I Like (illustrated by the Trantraal Brothers and Ashley Marais, forward by Robin Kelley, PM Press, 2021/Jacana Press 2022), and coauthor with Faeza Meyer of Writing Out Loud: Interventions in the History of a Land Occupation (forthcoming, 2023).

Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan is the co-Director of the Blue Planet Project. She works with social movements around the world to challenge corporate water grabs and promote community-based strategies for water justice including the Blue Communities Project – a project she co-created as national water campaigner for the Council of Canadians in 2009, which has now taken root in local campaigns around the world.

Meera is a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University and is currently completing her PhD focused on the struggles for access to water of racialized women living in townships and informal settlements in Cape Town.

Adrian Murray

Adrian Murray is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg. His research explores labour and social movement opposition to the neoliberal restructuring of public services in the face of ongoing austerity across the global South and North.

Marcela Olivera

Marcela Olivera is the Director of the Blue Planet Project and a water commons organizer based in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since 2004 she has been developing and consolidating an inter-American citizens’ network on water justice named Red VIDA. She sits on the coordinating committee of the Platform for Public and Community Partnerships of The America (PAPC). Since 2019, she has been working as the regional coordinator for the Blue Planet Project.

Leonard Shang-Quartey

Leonard is a public policy and management expert and a water rights activist in Ghana with links to several international human right to water movements. He has expertise and experience in water sector policy analysis and lobbying, formation and coordination of advocacy networks, development and dissemination of advocacy messages. He is currently one of two civil society representatives on UN Habitats’ Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance Steering Committee and he is coordinating the African Water Justice Network.

Board of Directors

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the founder of the Blue Planet Project and former Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. She chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch, is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council, and is the Honorary Chancellor of Brescia University. She has also served on the executive of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

Maude is the recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honour of the Sierra Club (US).

From 2008–2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 19 books, including her latest, Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis; and Whose Water is it Anyway? Taking water protection into public hands.

Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter

Wenonah Hauter is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action. She is the author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America and Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.

Laila Malik

Mary Ann Manahan

Mary Ann Manahan is a feminist activist researcher, academic assistant and PhD student at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University. Prior to her post, she has worked with various social movements and civil society groups on different national and international initiatives that demand equity, environmental, gender and social justice, and alternative development for the last seventeen years.

Outside academia, she is involved with the women’s and peasant’s movements in the Philippines on advisory capacities, and serves as co-facilitator of the Beyond Development Global Working Group, a diverse global platform of activists, community organizers, and academics working on radical and systemic transformations supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

She was former Senior Programme Officer with Asia-based think tank and advocacy NGO Focus on the Global South. She was also a former coordinator of the International Financial Institutions Advisory Board of Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) that provides small grants to NGOs and grassroots organizations around the world working on the intersections of development finance, human rights and environmental justice.

She received her undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of the Philippines-Diliman (magna cum laude). She finished her MsC on Globalization and Development (greatest distinction) at the Institute of Development Policy and Management at the University of Antwerp. Her master’s thesis on REDD+ and forest tenure won the Belgian Prize for Development Cooperation in 2016. Mary Ann has written and published various book chapters, journal and NGO articles, op-ed pieces covering the ‘commons’, land politics, agrarian reform, water privatization, international financial institutions, environmental justice, women’s rights, violence against women, resistance struggles, food sovereignty, and alternatives.

Adriana Marquisio

Adriana Marquisio has been working for the Uruguayan public Water Company, OSE, for 35 years. She is the founder of OSE’s cooperation department. She was president and vice-president of FFOSE, the water workers union, for 10 years. Adriana is also Co-Founder of CNDAV, the coalition that promoted the constitutional reform to elevate the human right to water and sanitation to constitutional status that was achieved in October 2004. Founder of the Red Vida and the Platform for Public and Community Partnerships of the Americas, Adriana is also OSE’s focal point for monitoring the rights agenda in the Human Rights Directorate, particularly in access to drinking water and sanitation at the level of the Uruguayan State. Adriana is also a member of the Historical and Cultural Assets Management Committee for the promotion of a Historical Archive and Water Museum in Uruguay.

David McDonald

David McDonald

David McDonald is Professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, Canada, and Director of the Municipal Services Project, a global research network that explores progressive forms of public services with a focus on equity, sustainability and democratic engagement. He has published widely on debates around public water in countries around the world.

Ruth Nyambura

Ruth Nyambura is a Kenyan feminist and organizer whose research interests are primarily on the agrarian political economy/ecology of Africa as well as other parts of the Global South. She has previously worked as the head of advocacy for the African Biodiversity Network (ABN).

Nyambura has written extensively on various aspects of the current agrarian transformations in Africa with her overall work focusing on the ideological underpinnings of the ‘New Green Revolution in Africa’ and its ties to philanthro-capitalist organizations such as the Gates’ Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Ruth’s research also analyzes the rapidly changing policy and legislative frameworks across the continent related to biosafety and Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regime which are not only criminalizing the rights of small-holder/-peasant farmers to use their traditional/indigenous seeds but are also opening up the space for foreign agri-business companies on the continent.

Nyambura is the founder and convenor of the African Ecofeminists Collective as well as the No REDD in Africa (NRAN) Collective which challenges forest related carbon markets and documents the impacts of these schemes on local communities in Africa. She is a board member of the Climate Justice Fund (CJF). Ruth holds an LL.M in Comparative Law, Economics and Finance from the University of Turin (UNITO), Italy and has been a judge on the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature.

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