• Alternative World Water Forum and Rio+20

  • By Chantal Delmas | 02 Apr 12 | Posted under: Ecology , Social Movements and Trade Unions
  • The Alternative World Water Forum (AWWF) took place in Marseille from 14 to 17 March. The official Forum on Water took place at the same time. The latter was a strikingly bitter failure, with only 3,000 participants of the 20,000 expected.

    The AWWF, on the other hand, with far less resources, brought together about 5,000 participants, covering local associations working on water-related issues, trade unionists, NGOs, delegations from Africa, Asia and both North and South America. transform! europe was involved with these meeting and had a stall with its review.

    Disappointed by the official forum, some of those taking part in it “sought asylum” at the AWWF, considering that the official forum did not offer any answers to the real problems raised by water supply. After all, the official forum essentially met the commercial and speculative preoccupations of multinationals like Veolia, Coca-Cola etc.

    There was a very diverse attendance at the AWWF, with convergent gatherings of many movements. The subject of one of these gatherings covered the AWWF and Rio+20. Those taking part in this gathering all affirmed that the question of water crystallises all the problems of the commercialisation of nature, such as the privatisation of access to water as well as the monopolisation of land, and makes them issues of popular concern. The multinationals buy up land, build dams so as to be able to better control supplies and market them in financially profitable ways.

    Many raised the issue of “private-public” partnerships, whose sole purpose is to make public bodies pay for the investments so as to make profits for the private partners.

    Only a “public-public” partnership was considered likely to fulfil the requirements of public service that the people need. A special emphasis was laid on the necessity of a democratic management, at a level close to the population concerned – this would create the other side of public management.

    Some issues seemed essential for the Rio+20 Summit

    • The essential problem is the question of the “Green economy” proposed by the official Rio+20 Summit. This has become solely a matter of commercialisation and of a new subject for speculation – speculating on nature via water. This “Green economy” is in no way the new mode of development to meet the ecological and social crisis. Behind a vocabulary that appears to take ecological issues into account there are terms which hide a new stage of financialisation. A major struggle must be initiated on the grass roots level so that a higher number of people can come to understand the issues at stake.
    • The link between ecological and social issues and especially the issue of ecological and social convergence is not seen in the same way by groups of ecologists and by organisations and groups closer to social problems, like the trade unions. The link between the ecological and the social is not only the issue of preserving indigenous populations and their ways of life, but also concerns our Western societies: for example, what kind of social and ecological conversion is needed for the steel and metal-working industries?
    • Dialogue must be deepened and convergences established if we want to be in a strong position to face up to this “Green economy” that the Ultraliberals are trying to impose on us.

    Proposals for Rio+20

    A Peoples’ Summit for social and environmental justice and against the commercialisation of nature and of living organisms:

    • From 15 to 17 June 2012: Sessions on thematic issues
    • 17 June: A great march through Rio
    • 20 June: International Day of global action 
    • Every evening: Gatherings for convergences 
    • 22 June: Final declaration

Related articles