Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Protest action during Nestlé seminar

A group of international water activists today protested against the creeping corporate takeover of World Water Week (WWW), exemplified by the role of Nestlé, the main sponsor of this year's conference. The action took place during a seminar that was convened by Nestlé and featured Nestlé speakers. Read the text that was distributed to WWW participants during the action.

Water for Life
- Not for Profit

Save the World Water Week from the grip of Corporate Domination

For 17 years the respected World Water Week has provided water researchers and policy-makers with a forum
for dialogue and debate.

Now, the World Water Week is losing legitimacy as an open space for debate and discussion as the corporate water takers have the forum in t
heir sights.

Why is Nestlé here?

Look around, where is the diversity of voices?

Should Corporate voices be the loudest voices here?

Save the World Water Week!

Water is a Human Right

Open Up Stockholm Water Week

In its 17 year history, the World Water Week (WWW), founded by the local public water utility, has played an important role gathering water experts for scientific and technical discussions. National and multilateral donors are sending higher profile delegations. Deals are being struck in side meetings, programmes and policies set and agreed. As a result, Stockholm Water Week has attracted massive attention from corporate lobby groups and think tanks like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Water Partnership (GWP), World Water Council, Aquafed, etc. In fact, WWW has become increasingly dominated by the private water industry. This politicization and domination by powerful private water interests risks the WWW losing its legitimacy as an open space for debate and discussion.

For the WWW to remain a legitimate forum for global water policy debate, it must stop the creeping corporate take-over and take serious steps to become more inclusive. Southern water sector and civil society representatives are disastrously under-represented, also due to the excessive entrance fees and the absence of funding to cover travel and lodging for those who cannot afford it.

A case in point is that this year Nestlé is the main sponsor of the Water Week. The world’s largest bottled water company by annual sales, Nestlé is playing a part in the privatization of public water sources around the globe. Nestlé continues exploiting new sources of water for their ever growing list of bottled water brands. When did Nestlé ever run a water utility? How can Nestlé help us achieve the MDGs? Bottled water is totally irrelevant to the needs of the poor. Bottled water damages the environment, pollutes the air, and creates huge amounts of plastic waste. Bottled water commodifies drinking water. Nestlé is an unwelcome participant in the struggle for water and sanitation for all.

WWW needs to make space for more of the actors involved in the water sector, not just the same elite club of international water jet-setters who spend their lives in these meetings. Ultimately, this means that governments should assume the responsibility for funding the WWW, allowing it to be clear of the corporate sponsors.

Around the world people have a dream of a better world and a better society where water is a human right and not something they can buy if they afford it. Public Water Operators, workers, activists are important actors in the public-public-partnership to make clean water available for all.


Eva Lockner said...

Thank you for opening our eyes. We in NAFIA (Nordic Workgroup for international Breastfeeding Issues) ought to have been there demonstrating with you against the sposorship and participation by powerful private water interests, first of all against Nestlé. We are well aware of Nestlé's destroying water use and policy, but our Nestlé target is their marketing of breastmilk substitutes in violence of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, enticing mothers not to breastfeed.
I really miss the opportunity.
Eva Lockner,

Eva Lockner said...

Do you allow me to use your picture for an article about Stockholm Water Week in NAFIA-nytt, our member paper?
Eva Lockner,