For Immediate Release

May 18, 2011

Global water activists oppose private water companies lobbying United Nations

Ottawa – 139 civil society organizations from 52 countries have sent a joint letter to UN missions opposing the increasingly widespread lobbying of the United Nations by transnational water corporations.

The concerns target corporate influence at the UN as outlined in a new report released today by the Council of Canadians: A Review of Private Sector Influence on Water Policies and Programmes at the United Nations, prepared by Julie Larsen. Both the report and joint letter are available here.  

The UN is currently reviewing an application for consultative status from the main corporate water lobby association, Aquafed. The joint letter specifically calls on the UN to reject this application.

“The UN ECOSOC consultative status is a way to hear the voices of social movements and civil society around the world. It should not be allowed to become a way for corporations to try and influence global water policy,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow. “It is important that we let the UN know this is unacceptable.”

Julie Larsen, author of the report, notes “Based on my review of water governance at the UN, I feel that the imbalance in power, influence, and money that come with engaging the private sector must be addressed head-on to prevent serious conflicts of interest.”

The report, which details the many ways that corporations currently influence UN policy and programmes, makes seven practical recommendations to resolve the problem of undue influence by the private sector on global water policies.

Anil Naidoo, Blue Planet Project Organizer says “This report outlines the already great degree of influence the private sector maintains at the UN. Allowing Aquafed to openly lobby member states on behalf of private companies who want to commodify water and profit from water is contrary to the recent resolutions recognizing the human right to water and sanitation.”

Water was recognized as a human right last year and the exact obligations of states and any limitations on the private sector are still being considered by UN agencies. With the passage of these resolutions on human right to water and sanitation, it is especially important that member states ensure that corporate interests do not have undue influence at this critical time.