Blue Planet Project
Billions of people are suffering because the world is not focused on providing water and sanitation for all. A strong UN General Assembly resolution will signal that water and sanitation is key priority for the international community. July 2010.
Since the second half of the 1970s, and in particular since the first major world conference on water (organized in 1977 by the United Nations at Mar del Plata, Argentina), world leaders have been aware of the scale of the problems concerning access to water of sufficient quantity and quality, and of the risks associated with growing shortages and degradation of the supply. The Mar del Plata conference set out the basic facts and made water one of the top issues on the international political agenda. And yet the ‘water crisis’ has continued to worsen.
One and a half billion people across the world lack drinking water and another two billion lack clean water generally. In 20 years' time these numbers will have doubled. Agricultural and industrial pollution is degrading the quality of fresh water supplies everywhere.
Yet the biggest threat to universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation is not mother nature but corporate globalization. Privatization of water is being aggressively exported to the developing world under the rubric of poverty reduction and debt relief strategies, free trade and economic development.
In this context, civil society demands that access to drinking water be recognized as a universal human right, in order to ensure that everyone can benefit from water resources. At the same time, it raises its voice against leaving water exploitation in the hands of private corporations whose only concern is making a profit from such services.
For the various civil society movements, the issue of basic services covers a wide range of subject areas, such as accountability and transparency of international government bodies, human rights, poverty alleviation, democratization, national sovereignty, gender equality, debt reduction and cancellation, and environmental protection. The water issue is, in this sense, key to guaranteeing the future of humanity.
A working partnership among all those involved in water management: government agencies, public institutions, private companies, professional organizations, multilateral development agencies and others committed to the Dublin-Rio principles.
This campaign calls upon social movements, networks and individual water activists committed to principles of equity, justice and sustainability, to mobilize against the upcoming 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul. March 2009.
Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed water privatisation policies which came up at the Fourth World Water Forum that took place in Mexico city, 16-22 March 2006. See the coverage by Choike.
African Governments, along with representatives of the international and scientific communities, civil society and the private sector held a meeting to agree on how to turn commitments into action. The Conference took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 8-13 December 2003.
"We, as a movement, are here to offer solutions to the water crisis, and to demand that the UN General Assembly organize the next global forum on water" said the civil society declaration gathered in the Alternative Water Forum. March 2009.
CARA aims to improve management and protection of Central American water resources through partnerships and collaboration between water resource professionals from universities, the private sector, non governmental organizations and international funding agencies.
The Institute aims to assist in the achievement of sustainable development of water resources and waste management through the provision of support to development agencies in Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa region.
Research and practical experience from GWA have demonstrated that effective, efficient and equitable water resources management is only achieved when both women and men are involved in integrated water resource management.
Once again, water becomes an important issue at the World Social Forum that is taking place in Porto Alegre. More than 32 events related to water have been registered in this global forum by non-governmental organizations, social movements, unions, peasants and indigenous groups. In spite of the generalised advance of privatisations promoted by international financial institutions, civil society is celebrating a little great victory: in El Alto, Bolivia, a new government contract with a transnational corporation was cancelled due to popular pressure.
On 5 December 2004, in the zócalo of Mexico City, the endorsing organizations, including non governmental and autonomous organizations, launched an initiative on the Right to Water in order to start a process of reflection regarding water related issues from a human rights perspective. December 2004.
Rios Vivos (Live Rivers) supports not only issues related to the Prata River Basin but, also, acts and articulate in the Amazonian Basin in Brazilian and Bolivian territory. The Coalition has several members from Latin American countries and is a reference for civil society.
The Freshwater Action Network is a global network of environmental and developmental non-governmental and community based organizations working to strengthen civil society's participation in international water policy formulation.
Issues relating to water, sanitation and human settlements are complex and invariably inter-connected. An overall understanding of how it all functions together is something few can claim to have. An integrated approach is what is essential and the lack thereof is perhaps the biggest barrier to effective implementation (doc version).
This collection of 19 new essays written by civil society activists, trade unionists and other water practitioners, presents examples of ongoing struggles against water privatization and commercialization as well as inspiring examples of people-centered public water management from across Asia. December 2007.
Many organizations encourage developing countries to privatize water. The alternative of a public sector water undertaking is ignored, although public sector water undertakings are the providers of water and sanitation services for the great majority of the population in developed countries. (pdf format)
"Providing investment"; "making available the funds needed to connect over a billion people to water and sanitation" was the promise of the private sector on which the last 15 years of donor policy has been based. But we have all been sold a pipe dream says a new report by Public Services International (PSI) that demonstrates that water privatisation has failed to deliver even the investment promised, let alone sufficient investment to connect new communities in the kinds of numbers needed to tackle the global water crisis. (PDF document). March 2006.
Many of the insights in this report emerged during a seminar in Madrid (Spain) on 17-18 November 2005. Here, campaigners, unionists and water professionals representing over fifteen countries from across the globe, came together to discuss progressive public water reforms. (PDF document). March 2006.
Water should be removed from trade liberalization negotiations, and governments must remain free to manage and deliver water as a public service. As part of a report released on the eve of the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, this article looks into de impacts of trade liberalization in water resources worldwide with examples from countries in Africa and Latin America. December 2005.
When transnational corporations are responsible for regulation and control of water-related services, governments lose the power to ensure the right to water. Therefore, basic services should be excluded from the jurisdiction of the GATS. (PDF document). November 2005.
The drive to privatize water distribution and resources is gaining steam in Latin America. Although transnational water companies have suffered setbacks in places like Puerto Rico, Bolivia, and Uruguay, they continue with plans to appropriate the region's hydrological resources—rivers, aquifers, wells, and aqueduct systems. While “privatization” has become a loaded term in the water business, companies prefer a softer discourse, employing concepts such as “decentralization,” “civil society participation,” and “sustainable development.” November 2005.
The grave mistakes that have been made in the process of privatization in Bolivia, have further contributed to the instability of democracy in the country. International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have played a key role in promoting water privatization in exchange for financial aid thus undermining the people's inniciative to establish a public company to ensure efficiency, transparency and profitability. A letter sent by the federation of neighbours of "El Alto" urges the IFIs to reverse their privatization policy. April 2005.
Water and sanitation privatisation in developing countries has failed time and again and will continue to do so because of a series of fundamental flaws in the premise that multinational companies are well equipped to deliver essential services to the poor. February 2005. PDF document.
This article underlines the possibility that water, rather than oil, becomes the world's next biggest catalyst for conflict. How such potential conflicts can be resolved is a problem facing international organizations and security experts. September 2005.
Problems of water scarcity and water pollution affect human and ecosystem health, and hinder economic and agricultural development. Local and regional problems, in turn, may affect the rest of the world by threatening food supplies and global economic development. May 2005.
Water-supplies should be regarded as being so highly sensitive, that they must in no
way be included in speculative or profit-orientated business deals, because the possible risks involved are unacceptable. This report states that "the only activities which can genuinely be classified as "aid" are those which help the people in a particular region to organise their own water -supply without removing their right of disposal".
The world is running out of fresh water. By the year 2025, there will be 2.6 billion more people on Earth than there are today. As many as two-thirds of those people will be living in conditions of serious water shortage, and one-third will be living with absolute water scarcity. Demand for water will exceed availability by 56 percent.
Independent initiative dedicated to the promotion of sustainable water resources' management and use. A particular emphasis is placed on the development, utilization and protection of water in Africa and other developing regions.
This publication is a call to recognise sanitation as a crucial aspect of the right to an adequate standard of living, setting out the most important strategies and measures that stakeholders and decision-makers can prioritise in order to ensure that sanitation is accessible and affordable to all. It is an advocacy tool to encourage more funding for sanitation, more debate and more research into the barriers to accessing affordable sanitation and how to remove them. August 2008.
There is growing interest in the contributions of human rights to efforts to extend access to water and sanitation, but little practical information is available at present on how this can be achieved. The Manual on the Right to Water and Sanitation is designed to assist policy makers and practitioners in implementing the human right to water and sanitation. The Manual addresses issues common to most economic, social and cultural rights, including how to operationalise the requirements of non-discrimination and attention to vulnerable and marginalised groups, participation, international cooperation and affordability within government programmes. The Manual has been produced by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Programme and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). February 2008.
The laws and policies of many countries provide scant protection for vulnerable groups. And they are rarely enforced. Water services can be disconnected without notice and without provision of an alternative water supply despite the dire threats to life and health. Water prices can be arbitrarily increased even where water costs constitute the bulk of an individual or family budget. There are an insufficient number of monitoring bodies to ensure the equitable implementation of water policies and provide redress for violations.
This UN-wide programme seeks to develop the tools and skills needed to achieve a better understanding of those basic processes, management practices and policies that will help improve the supply and quality of global freshwater resources.
If the world's growing water crisis remains unresolved (depriving clean water to more than one billion of the world's six billion people) it will jeopardise the UN's longstanding battle to reduce global poverty, hunger and disease by its targeted date of 2015, says the 2006 Human Development Report launcehd by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). November 2006.
The world is in danger of missing targets for providing clean water and sanitation unless there is a dramatic increase in the pace of work and investment between now and 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF said. September 2006.
Under the title "Water: a shared responsibility" the 2nd UN World Water Development Report presents a picture of freshwater resources in all regions and most countries of the world as it tracks progress towards the water-related targets of the UN Millennium Development Goals. March 2006.
Globally, the lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities results in the deaths of 3,900 children daily. The importance of water and sanitation is recognised in the Millennium Development Goals. What will it take to expand water supply and sanitation coverage to the extent necessary to achieve them? How can water use be optimised to achieve the rest of the Goals? (PDF document). September 2005.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Earth, with its diverse and abundant life forms, including over six billion humans, is facing a serious water crisis. All the signs suggest that it is getting worse and will continue to do so, unless corrective action is taken. This crisis is one of water governance, essentially caused by the ways in which we mismanage water (pdf version).
International NGO forum in Montreal, 18-20 June 1990, organized by Oxfam and others before the official closing of the International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade (pdf format; in French, English, and Spanish, in that order).
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has been asked to provide a report regarding the Human Right to Water (HRTW) to the Human Rights Council. Bearing in mind the importance of a strong report from that office, several civil society organizations put forward several points that should be taken into account in the report. April 2007.
Signed in Lisbon, Valencia (Spain) in 1998, the Water Manifesto is intended to demonstrate symbolically, politically and technically the urgent need for a ‘water revolution’ (which is to promote, consolidate and guarantee constant access to life for all). (Doc format)
From 21-23 March 2002, men and women representing 98 organizations and communities from 21 countries met, united by their common concern over plans for the construction of dams in different regions. This is the Declaration from the Mesoamerican Forum for Life.
Adopted by the civil society alternative meeting and signed by around 300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 40 countries, this declaration states that water is a "common good" and access to water is an essential and inalienable right. Now available in English. March 2006.
Building on the work of meetings of previous years, social movements involved in the struggles for the rights to water and against its commoditisation from across the world met at the World Social Forum in Caracas. They succeeded in pooling the work of various workshops and built a common platform which examined regional issues within a global understanding of water. February 2006.
Water is essential to human beings and all forms of life. But pollution and lack of access to clean water is proliferating the cycle of poverty, water-borne diseases, and gender inequities. Key issues, government commitments and actions for sustainable development.
Since around March 17, 2006, two independent popular movements in India, the Bhopal movement and the Narmada movement, encamped in New Delhi, holding sit-in demonstrations to voice their respective protests and demands. What these two movements are demanding are not just their issue-based demands, just as they are, but that they be accepted as citizens of the country with a clear and defined role in decision-making that affects their lives; that they are not ‘clients’ or customers, or patients, and that the government is accountable and answerable to them; that they have a fundamental right to a place to live in security and dignity, and that it is the government’s constitutional obligation not to provide this but to guarantee that they can have this; and that the paramount accountability of the government is to its people. April 2006.
This report analyses the construction and planning of dams on a river basin scale and examines the risks of dams to freshwater ecosystems. It identifies 21 river basins at severe risk of ecological degradation as they have six or more dams over 60 m high planned or under construction in addition to existing dams. Top of the list is the Yangtze River Basin in China with 46 dams, followed by the La Plata River Basin in South America with 27 and the Tigris and Euphrates River Basin with 26, most of these in Turkey. Of particular concern are the cumulative impacts of large numbers of dams in the same basin, especially in smaller basins such as the Salween/Nu River in Myanmar and China (pdf version). June 2004.
When water becomes scarce, farmers have two options: find new sources of irrigation water or find ways of minimizing irrigation demand. In both the Turkey and Sri Lanka cases, farmers pursued a dual strategy.
This report states that since Nestlé choose Pakistan as country to roadmap its global water strategy in the bottled water market, the ground water level has decreased drying local water provisions, while the use of groundwater obviosuly exceeded the renewable volume. PDF document.
For almost 30 years the United Nations has been proclaiming the universal right to sufficient clean drinking water. However, over 1.2 billion people still have no access to water. Various non-governmental organizations and movements from the North and the South are now calling for an international water convention under UN auspices in order to secure the binding right to
water, to protect water as a public good and a life-sustaining resource, and to press governments into taking appropriate action. September 2005.
Access to enough clean water, taken for granted by most people in developed
countries, is a matter of life and death for millions. The daily grind of searching for and collecting water is also part of a state of poverty that
affects dignity, self-respect and other aspects of well-being that transcend the notion of ‘basic’ needs. (PDF document). July 2005.
Water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the alleviation of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being. The United Nations General Assembly at its 58th session in December 2003 agreed to proclaim the years 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life", and beginning with World Water Day, March 22, 2005.
Sustainably meeting the food and livelihood needs of a growing population will require some very difficult choices about how water is developed and managed in the next 25 years. More food will be necessary, and more food translates into more water for agriculture. More water for agriculture will in many cases mean less for the environment. So how do you manage water for food and the environment? And how do you do so in a way that also reduces poverty? Discussion draft, August 2004 (pdf version).
This paper seeks to articulate the issues, and set out the competing arguments and challenges, about the contribution that a human right to water could make to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Population and Development Branch of the United Nations Population Fund prepared this report as a contribution to the dialogue that took place at the Third World Water Forum held in Kyoto, Japan (March 2003), and covers the population, gender and health dimensions related to the ongoing debate on water resources (pdf version).
Providing adequate supplies of clean drinking water may not be the most exciting challenge facing scientists working in developing countries. But it is certainly one of the most pressing — and, potentially, the most rewarding.
This report presents arguments for the potential role of protected areas in helping to maintain water supply to major cities. A research report for the World Bank / WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use (pdf version).