This evening, about 20 water justice activists from France, Spain, Belgium, Britain, Canada, the United States, Bolivia and the Philippines met in Marseille to plan for a meeting tomorrow afternoon with governments attending the World Water Forum. Invitations have gone to all governments asking them to step outside the corporate-dominated conference to meet with civil society to discuss the implementation of the right to water and sanitation, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly one-and-a-half years ago.

Tomorrow afternoon, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will welcome the government representatives, Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena will facilitate the meeting, and a series of civil society speakers from different countries (including Nigeria, Chile, the Philippines, Britian and Spain) will tackle the problematic nature of the World Water Forum, challenges related to the implementation of the right to water and sanitation, how the green economy would undermine these rights, and more.

To date, we have had expressions of interest in this meeting by officials from Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador and Spain.

A civil society ‘call to action’ with our analysis and demands will be presented to those at the meeting. More than 75 organizations from around the world have signed this statement which says, “We are social justice organizations, indigenous peoples, trade unions, environmental groups, farmers, writers, academics, human rights advocates, community activists and networks which share a vision of water as a fundamental human right and a commons, not a commodity.”

Just prior to this government-civil society meeting, the water activists will also meet with the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque. Late last week, she stated, “Governments are being inconsistent with their prior decisions on the recognition of the right to water and sanitation taken at the UN General Assembly (if the right to water and sanitation isn’t included in the Ministerial Declaration). If Governments spend one week (at the World Water Forum) discussing ’solutions’ for water issues while failing to base them on the human right to water and sanitation, how could such solutions be for people who need water and sanitation most and are systematically neglected?”

More soon.

Brent Patterson, Political Director, The Council of Canadians

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Brent Patterson

Brent Patterson is a political activist, writer and the executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. He lives in Ottawa on the traditional, unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Algonquin...