Boycott of the IV World Water Forum

Boycott of the IV World Water Forum

By Georg Schön

The Struggle Against the Privatization of Water in Mexico - the First National Assembly in Defense of Land and Water and Against their Privatization and the boycott of the IV World Water Forum. Water is a public good and a human right, let's defend it!

Summary of the activities currently being developed in defense of water in the framework of the next World Water Forum, to be held in Mexico City next March. This Forum is an official event and in particular of the big world companies that promote the privatization of natural resources. They come to Mexico to defend an agenda of predation of such resources and in the first place the water. How are social and civil organizations organizing themselves to defend natural resources and in favor of the right to equitable access? The following pages account for the actions of activists around the world.

Behind closed doors, the world's governments are negotiating the General Agreement of Commerce and Services (GATS for its acronym in English) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Its aim is the liberalization of public services such as water, health, education, public transport and electricity. With this, the water market must be subject to the laws of the market and to competition between large transnational corporations. The latter receive support from the International Financial Institutions (IFI), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the powerful industrialized countries. The World Bank estimates the world water market at 10 trillion 400 billion pesos [1]. Large transnational companies such as the French companies Vivendi and Suez or the German companies RWE and E.ON fight in this market. The Suez, RWE and Vivendi companies dominate more than 70% of the water supply business in the world. The European Union is in the front ranks when it comes to liberalizing the water sector. In particular, the European Commission and the government of France - home to the two leaders in the world water market, Vivendi and Suez - stand out in this process. The EU demands - through the legislations established in the GATS - the total liberation of the water supply system of more than 100 countries. You have to see the process of water privatization also associated with the financing and construction of dams around the world along with the bottled water business. Mexico has the first place in the consumption of bottled water in Latin America [2], an industry dominated by four transnational companies: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone.

In this context, the IV World Water Forum (FMA) is presented [3], “Where the large Transnational Corporations (TC) and their allied governments set out the agenda to be followed around water resources. The FMA brings together the main TCs interested in the economic resource of water, the IFIs, multilateral organizations, representatives of governments and scientists and specialists, along with some “Non” Governmental Organizations that echo neoliberal policies. " [4]

But the world has already witnessed the catastrophic impacts of water privatizations in many countries around the world such as Ghana, South Africa, Bolivia, Argentina, Canada and England.

The synthesis of the impacts for the population are the following:

There is no consideration of community / collective economic objectives: For private providers, only the maximization of their profits and the courses of the shares in the stock market count.

Increasing prices: In England for example, rates were raised 50% after the liberalization of the water market. The increase in rates in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba caused the well-known "water war" where the people rose up and took to the streets to reject the US corporation Bechtel.

Quality and safety decrease: A greater appearance of diseases such as hepatitis A and the neglect of infrastructure. State fines or claims for compensation for damages come out cheaper for TCs than infrastructure or water quality maintenance.

The narrowing of supply: The TCs cut off the water to those who cannot pay the fees. After this drastic measure, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, people began to drink water from a polluted river that caused a cholera epidemic.

Job losses, worsening working conditions in the water sector and at the same time, a growth in the salaries of senior officials of the TC.

There is no sustainable water management: Through privatizations they withdraw environmental and resource protection standards, thus seeking to maximize profits.

But at the same time it grows the resistance celebrating victories in defending water and building alternatives around the world. In many countries of the world, organized civil society achieves expulsions of TC from their lands and a democratic and community management of water, as in Cochabamba, or laws that prevent the privatization of the resource, as in Uruguay where, by plebiscite, October 2004, the citizens voted for a constitutional reform that would guarantee access to water and sanitation as fundamental human rights.

Pushing for the IV FMA, civil society in Mexico begins to confront the dark forecast regarding water supply. Currently in the world more than one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water [5] and by the year 2025 2/3 of the world population will suffer the serious impacts of water scarcity [6]. The reasons are multiple and are based above all on the irresponsible management and over-exploitation of water within the capitalist system. For this reason, the UN has long warned that future wars will not be caused by oil but by the scarcity of this strategic resource. [7]. And scarcity is not a natural occurrence. "The fresh water in the world is enough to supply a human population three times greater than the current one" [8]. Rather, it is inequity in access to water, pollution, diversion of rivers, deforestation and climate change that have made clean water a "rare commodity".

In October 2005 it arises The Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water to demand access to this resource as a human right in Mexico and build its democratic, sustainable, fair and equitable management. Various networks, alliances, movements and human rights centers joined this initiative. Among others are: the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples (AMAP) [9], the Coordinator of Workers in Defense of the Public Character of Water [10], the FIAN Mexico Foodfirst Information and Action Network-Mexico Section [11], the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers [12], the Gender and Environment Network (RGEMA), the Mexican Action Network against Free Trade (RMALC) [13], the Popular Urban Movement (MUP) and the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center. A.C. (PRODH Center) [14]. They declare their concern for the sustainable management of water, for the unequal distribution and access to water, for the privatization trend and for the lack of democratic participation mechanisms in Mexico.

The Coalition affirms that respecting, protecting and guaranteeing the right to water is an obligation of the Mexican State, since Mexico has signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [15] and General Comment No. 15 [16], issued in 2003 by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Said General Comment No. 15 "highlights the human right to water as the right of all people to have sufficient, safe, acceptable and accessible water that must be exercised in a sustainable way so that present and future generations can enjoy it" [17]. The COMDA also states that “access, distribution and decision-making on water must be equitable between people and regions” and “that it is urgent to propose a new water policy through its democratic and public management, through the promotion of technologies. and a new culture of water. " That is why COMDA demands “to stop and reverse the privatization processes of water services, reform the legislation and policies that promote it, and create new laws and policies in favor of plural participation in decision-making on water management. . "

On January 21 and 22, COMDA and its members convened the First National Assembly in Defense of Land and Water and Against their Privatization. Around 200 delegates from more than 110 affected organizations, social, political and environmental organizations, from 13 states of Mexico participated in the successful meeting. They affirm the loss of confidence in political parties, be they the PRI, PAN or PRD, and they claim the human right to water. In the declaration they call for the construction of a new society-nature relationship whose foundation should be "the historical legacy of our indigenous cultures and native peoples on the integral management of water." [18]. Maximizing profits should not be the determining factor in your water supply. The priority of public and communal interests, such as access for all, higher quality, high environmental standards and democratic management over profit interests, must be ensured. These goals are a great challenge given the Mexican reality. Affected organizations denounce multiple violations against this human right [19]. The contamination of rivers by sewage, the destruction of unique ecosystems by mega-infrastructure projects, supply problems due to a chaotic and poorly planned urbanization, contamination of groundwater / groundwater by gas stations or the criminalization of environmental activists are just a few problems. mentioned.

The participating organizations reject the indiscriminate increase in drinking water rates, demand a reduction in the immoral salaries assigned to the high officials of the National Water Commission and transparency in the management of budgets; They fight against neoliberal development plans such as the PPP and for an improvement in water quality. Also noteworthy is the complaint for the lack of inclusion of women in the entire process of access, use, management, control, benefit and management in decision-making. The declaration of the meeting fraternally greets the Other Campaign of the Zapatists and agrees to spread the fight in defense of water on its way.

The long-term strategy is in the creation of Popular Water Defense Committees at the local and communal level. With this they must carry out the democratization of public services. Control, participation, and autonomous management of water resources at the local and regional level are long-term goals. A strong environmental movement and a critical consumer movement must emerge given the concentration of power in the hands of a few companies.

The short-term challenge is boycotting the IV World Water Forum that will take place from March 16 to 22 in Mexico City. Mexico already moves to the rhythm of The Conference in Defense of Water that began on January 22 and will last until March 22 [20]All this in the context of the mobilization and preparation for the central events during the IV FMA and the creation of a strong movement in defense of water in Mexico. Multiple alternative events will take place in a decentralized way in various places in the city and the country, both inside and outside the FMA. Among others: the Latin American Water Tribunal [21] will hold continuous events between March 13 and 20 at the National Museum of Anthropology and COMDA summons the International Forum in Defense of Water (IFAD) to be held from 17 to 19 of this month in the Union of Telephone Operators of the Mexican Republic [22]. On the 15th an event prior to the forum will be the Symposium on Best Practices in Public Water Management organized by Transnational Institute [23], Corporate Europe Observatory [24] and COMDA, among others. In addition, on March 14, “the International Day of Actions against Dams” will be celebrated around the world. [25].

The beginning of the IV World Forum will be accompanied by a great public march against it. Organizations from all over the world will participate in these alternative events that will demonstrate the global struggle against the privatization of water and against the irrational management and use of water within the capitalist system. The activities are of great importance as it is the first time that the FMA will face such strong popular resistance thanks to the growing awareness in the American continent and its popular fighting force. The programming committee [26] invites the civil society of Mexico, the international community and the alter-world movement to participate in the mobilizations and alternative events and to join the fight for the defense of water [27].


* By Georg Schön

[1] 800 billion Euros

[2] 52% of bottled water consumption in Latin America corresponds to Mexico, where 29 billion pesos of bottled water were sold in 2004

[3] For more information see:

[4] For more information see the Bulletin "Chiapas al Día", The Scaffolding for the Privatization of water towards IV. World Water Forum; Nos. 487 and 488, Ciepac,

[5] Additionally, 2.3 billion people suffer from water-related diseases every year. See United Nations, Commission on Sustainable Development, Comprehensive Assessment of the World's Freshwater Resources, New York, 1997, p. 39.

[6]The Middle East and Africa are the regions of greatest concern: by 2025, 40 countries in those regions are expected to experience stress or water shortages.

[7] The UN World Water Development Report-Water for People, Water for Life -

[8] Underwater Privatization - Brochure prepared by the Mexican Institute for Community Development IMDEC.A.C .;



[11] FIAN International website:




[15] For more information see The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights -

[16] For more information see

[17] For more information, see the document The Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water Emerges to demand it as a human right in Mexico -

[18] For more information see the added Declaration of the First National Assembly in Defense of Land and Water and Against their Privatization

[19] Among them: Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam, Guerrero; Citizens United to the Rescue of the Acuitlapilco Lagoon, Tlaxcala; Mazahua Movement, State of Mexico; Peasant Union Emiliano Zapata-Vive UCEZ-VIVE Puebla; Xoxocotla drinking water system, Morelos; Communities of the towns of San Miguel and Santo Tomás Ajusco, D.F .; Colonos de Manantiales de Cuautla Morelos and many more - for more info see the declaration added.

[20] For more info see the Agenda of Activities of the Days in Defense of Water added or on the Internet:

[21] For more info see: or for the Central American Water Tribunal. For more information see also:

[22] See Tentative Work Program:

[23] Transnational Institute on the Internet:

[24] Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is "a European-based research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups" -

[25] For more info see:

[26] COMDA (Mexico); Red Vida (Americas) /; Food and Water Watch, Water for All (USA); Coordinator for the Defense of Water and Life (Bolivia); Corporate Europe Observatory (Netherlands); Bread For the World (Germany); Corporate Accountability International (USA); Blue Planet Project (Global); Council of Canadians (Canada)

[27]If you want to participate and especially if you plan to organize a workshop or a similar event, contact COMDA by registering on the page

Video: Binational Waters Event - Science Talks November 16 2020 English (August 2021).