Earth Democracy: New Beginnings
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 as World Water Day. This year’s theme was “We are Thirsty – Because We are Hungry” is urgent.
Simply put: with 7 billion people to feed on the planet today, a billion of whom already live in chronic hunger, and another 2 billion expected to join the population by 2050, the need to provide sufficient nutritious food for all, as well as sufficient drinking water, is urgent. In a recent article, “Water-short world will need ‘More crop per drop’," government Ministers at the official 6th World Water Forum are quoted as saying that demand for drinking water, agriculture, industry and energy production have to be balanced. By balanced, let’s keep in mind that many corporate and government policy-makers support calculating and pricing an amount of water per day per person. Yet, we know that industry and energy overuse, waste and pollute water with impunity. More importantly, the Institute for Food and Development Policy finds that in all countries, from developing to industrialized, the main cause of hunger is poverty—not a shortage of food, and the conversion of agricultural land to other uses.
These are just some of the issues that two of Earth Democracy’s sub-committees, the Human Right to Water and Health and Food Democracy & Local Economy, will bring to you on the new website. We invite you to join the discussion list here and become a member of one a sub-committee.
This year World Water Day came just after the conclusion of FAME, the Forum Alternatif de l’Eau Mondial or the Alternative World Water Forum, in Marseille, France, March 14-17, that Nancy Price, member of the Earth Democracy coordinating team attended to represent WILPF and participate in the Women and Health discussions to emphasize the link to the human right to water and the human right to health.
Since 2006, an alternative people’s forum has been held at the same time as the 6th World Water Forum of the World Water Council where the corporate, government, finance and United Nations representatives meet to discuss and implement water policies worldwide that have led to privatization, indebtedness, more destructive dams, and the overuse, waste and pollution of precious fresh water sources by industry and the extractive industries. The 2012 World Water Forum was criticized as a means to move towards greater privatization of nature, undermining the human right to water in RIO+20 negotiations.
This year 15,000 citizens of 90 nations participated in different events at the Alternative World Water Forum and 5000 marched for water as a common good on Saturday 17 March, with 2000 at the closing concert on Saturday night and hundreds at the cultural events related to FAME.
After more than a decade of local to global organizing against the corporate agenda, Maude Barlow declared at the opening of the Alternative Forum that the “corporate world water forum is dead.”
Nancy writes, “there is so much to report about three-and-one-half jam-packed days and evenings of workshops and plenaries with simultaneous translation into French, Spanish or English." You can view the full program here and the “Women and Water” events here.
During the “Women and Health” discussion, Nancy made the case that the human right to water should be linked with the human right to health, and also spoke briefly at the closing Plenary on March 17 morning to emphasize this point be included in the final Declaration that has yet to be issued.
You can read workshop reports and look at videos here.
Other highlights from the FAME Conference include:
- Formation of European network for water as a common good, following the successful national referendum on water as a human right in Italy last June and just recently in Madrid, Spain
- Formation of European and International movement against fracking and shale gas building on successful efforts to ban or curtail in Germany, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Ireland, Spain, the U.S. and elsewhere
- Launched organized effort for Rio+20 to oppose corporations and national governments that want to weaken, “backet” or outright eliminate nearly all references to human rights obligations and equity principle, including the human right to water and sanitation in “The Future We Want” text for the outcome of Rio+20; and oppose the “corporate” version of the “green economy” that seeks to privatize and commodify all of nature.
Join the Earth Democracy sub-committee on the Rights of Nature to help us advance this work.