We are horrified that on December 7, 2020, CME Group – the world’s largest financial derivatives exchange company – launched the world’s first futures market in water, opening up speculation from financiers and investors seeking to profit from the planet’s water crisis. The new futures market is linked to the spot water market in California, a major food producer living in the shadow of perpetual drought.
We deplore this development and urge people and governments everywhere to reject it. The planet is running out of accessible clean water because humans have polluted, over-extracted, diverted, dammed, and mismanaged it. We have seen water as a resource for our profit and convenience and not as the essential element for all life that we have a duty to protect. Already, private corporations and investors have commodified water through the privatization of water services, the bottled water industry, land and water grabs and water rights given to extractive industries such as energy and mining.
In fact, the chemical and water-intensive model of industrial agriculture in California and many other parts of the world is a major driver of the water crisis. Commodifying water is not the solution. Protecting and conserving water and sharing it equitably is an ecological and justice imperative so that the right to water of all human beings and non-human beings is guaranteed. The Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth is clear that water and nature have inherent rights. Commodifying water as is proposed would violate this pledge.
If water is put on the open market like oil and gas, it will lead inevitably to rising water prices in a world desperately in need of water for life. Nearly two million children die every year due to dirty water – a situation made more critical in a time of Covid when half the world’s population lacks access to a place to wash their hands with soap and warm water. This in itself is a travesty, but to imagine that wealthy hedge fund speculators and faceless derivatives gamblers will have the right to drive up the price of water for their own profit is totally unacceptable and must be stopped.
Ten years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing that clean water and sanitation are basic human rights. The move to commodify water on Wall Street directly threatens these human rights and puts billions in jeopardy.
We demand that people everywhere and all governments reject the commodification of water and its sale on the open market and recognize that water is a public trust and a human right in law and practice for all time.
|Maude Barlow is a Canadian activist and author. She is the founder of the Blue Planet Project, co-founder of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch.|
|Dr. Vandana Shiva Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental leader, a physicist, ecologist, activist, editor, and author of numerous books.|