Our Team



Koni Benson

Koni Benson is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape, working in the areas of gender, urban, public, and oral history. She is a research fellow and organizer with the Blue Planet Project, supporting struggles against pre-paid water meters in Cape Town and the growth of the water justice movement on the continent. Her research is on collective interventions in histories of contested development and the mobilization, demobilization, and remobilization of struggle history in southern Africa’s past and present. She is the author of Crossroads: I Live Where I Like, a graphic novel history series on women’s organized resistance to forced removals in Crossroads South Africa and a forthcoming book with PM Press. She is the co-author with Faeza Meyer of Writing Out Loud: Interventions in the History of A Land Occupation. With Feminist Alternatives, she co-produced My Dream is to Be Bold: Our Work to End Patriarchy (Pambazuka/ Michigan State UP, 2010). Her writing has been published by the Journal of Southern African Studies, African Studies Review, Feminist Africa, Gender Place and Culture: Feminist Geography, Education as Change, South African Labour Bulletin, Zambezia, Khanya College Journal, Pathways to Free Education, ILRIG, Zmagazine, and newspapers in South Africa, Canada, Kenya, and Namibia.


Meera Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan is the 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.

She is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Geography focusing 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 in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. 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. He is also active in labour and community organizing.

Marcela Olivera

Marcela Olivera is 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.

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.


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.

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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