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Statement by Maude Barlow, Chair, Council of Canadians, and Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

The World Water Forum held in Marseille, France was an opportunity for multinational water companies to make money out of nature.

For Immediate Release

March 17, 2012

Marseille - The 6th World Water Forum this week, despite lagging attendance and Sarkozy reneging on his promise to attend, has still been an opportunity for multinational water corporations to solidify their plans to further privatize nature at Rio+20. Thanks to Canada’s successful effort to weaken language in the forum’s ministerial document regarding the human right to water, and as demonstrated by the banking industry’s plans to integrate water trading into futures markets and to create derivative water-based financial instruments, the privatization of water has accelerated dramatically, creating a setback for right to water as resolved by the UN.

We have already seen the ‘casino of hunger’ created by speculation on commodity crops. The global food crisis that caused millions to starve was caused by a tidal wave of Wall Street speculation. Now the same economic interests are proposing the same type of financial mechanisms to create a ‘green economy,’ while the real agenda is creating a speculative market with the potential to create great wealth for the corporations and economic institutions promoting this strategy.

At the opening plenary of the Alternative World Water Forum, which drew approximately 5,000 attendees, the UN special rapporteur for the right to water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, said, ‘Be vigilant. The Marseille Ministerial Declaration is already being used at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to weaken these rights.’

The Council of Canadians, Food and Water Watch and many other organizations have sent a letter to governments to publicly denounce the Ministerial Declaration.

At Rio+20, where global leaders will meet to make commitments towards carbon reductions 20 years after the UN’s first Conference on Sustainable Development, multinational corporations are playing a key role in lobbying for the financialization of nature, complete with futures markets and other derivative based financial instruments to enable water speculation.

We can’t survive a mortgage crisis for water. It’s not a truly green economy that these interests are promoting. It’s a greenwashed economy, which will do nothing to help mitigate climate change, water shortages or other pending environmental disasters.

Since 1985, the Council of Canadians has brought people together to act for social, economic and environmental justice in Canada and around the world. With chapters and members across the country, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest public advocacy organization.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.


Darcey Rakestraw, +1 202-210-0152; drakestraw(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Kate Fried, +1 202-683-4905; kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Meera Karunananthan, +1 613-355-2100; mkarunananthan(at)Canadians(dot)org