Warning message

Please note that this page is from our archives. There may be more up-to-date content about this topic on our website. Use our search engine to find out.
NGOs, Unions Reject Corporate Agenda, Criticize Camdessus Report, and Offer Alternatives

Kyoto, JAPAN – An impromptu walkout during the launch of the Camdessus report in the World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure session today sparked controversy as civil society sharply criticized the World Water Council’s positions ranging from infrastructure and dam development to the privatization and pricing policies being pushed at the World Water Forum.

The defiant act demonstrated critical opposition to the corporate influence of the forum as the finale approaches. The ongoing protests reached a climax this morning as representatives from hundreds of NGOs and unions around the world demanded that the World Water Council pursue a different direction.

“Instead of pumping more money through corporate channels and bailing out the water multinationals, we should be investing in public water systems,” said David Boys of Public Services International. “That’s the best way to meet people’s right to water and ensure community control of innovative and sustainable water systems.”

In session after session, civil society representatives voiced a viewpoint that has been largely ignored by the World Water Council. Their primary argument centers on the belief that water is a human right, not a corporate right, and should therefore not be subject to the marketplace. The increasing presence of civil society at the World Water Forum is evidence of a growing movement that is determined to stand up to the corporate agenda currently driving the mindset of the World Water Council.

“The World Water Council’s solutions are driven by personal, institutional, corporate and political interests. They have used this forum to push public subsidies for more big dams, and other destructive water projects,” said Joan Carling of the Cordillera People’s Alliance in the Philippines. “These ’solutions’ will not help the majority of the world’s people without access to water – they will only worsen the problems and prevent the adoption of real solutions such as rainwater harvesting and renewable energies. We call for a rejection of the Camdessus report – no public financing should be given for large water infrastructure projects unless they meet World Commission on Dams guidelines.”

Indigenous people from across the globe also came to the forum to share their perspective on protecting and preserving the world’s water supply. In countering the forum’s agenda, Maya Marilyn Harris from the Black Mesa Trust in the United States said, “Our relationship with our lands and water is the fundamental physical cultural and spiritual basis for our existence. We stand united to follow and implement our knowledge and traditional laws and exercise our right of self-determination to preserver water and to preserve life.”

Central to the critique of the World Water Council was a rejection of the Camdessus report, which outlines financing proposals that have been customized to complement the Ministerial Declaration. Camdessus is calling for drastic changes in the financing of water delivery systems and billions of public dollars for large dams and other destructive water infrastructure projects. The proposals are geared more towards using public money to protect investors against risks than providing access to safe and affordable water for all peoples.

“This model targets poor populations who cannot afford increased water rates,” said Karl Flecker from the Polaris Institute in Canada. “Essentially, the Camdessus report proposes a franchising model for global water corporations in order to bolster private enterprise. Citizens groups across the globe are condemning the report as a blueprint for global water corporations to profit from water systems through a market model that will do nothing to improve access to quality water in developing countries.”


For more info, please contact:
Aviva Imhof, International Rivers Network,
cell 080 3208 4995
Robert Fox, Public Services International,
090 5400 6576
Erica Hartman, Public Citizen,
cell 090 3944 7674
Guy Caron, Council of Canadians,
cell 080 3240 7401