For Lefties too Stubborn to Quit
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World Water Forum Attendance Reportedly Down as Activists Ramp Up Preparations for Alternative Forum
Tuesday March 06, 2012 16:09 by FAME - LASC - Latin America Solidarity Centre
The World Water Forum (WWF) and the Alternative World Forum (in French: Forum Alternatif Mondial de l'Eau –FAME-) are going to take place from the 12th March in Marseille, France. Governments, organizations and civil society will gather to discuss, reflect on, and take important decisions about the future water.
The World Water Forum (WWF) is organised every three years since 1997, when the first World Water Forum was convened for three days in Marrakech, Morocco. In the following editions of the Forum (The Hague in 2000, Kyoto in 2003, Mexico in 2006), the WWF came under heavy criticism by civil society organisations for its pro-big business bias and its weak legitimacy.
Its main organiser is the World Water Council (WWC), an organisation based in Marseille, France, which cooperates with the Forum’s host country to organise the event. The WWC was created in 1996 thanks to the initiative of water transnational corporations and various international bodies (World Bank, IWA, IUCN, WSSCC, UNDP, UNESCO…); its statutory remit is to “develop a common strategic vision on integrated water resources management” , a governance approach that has been for a long time the trademark of the “French Water School” and French water multinationals Veolia and Suez, the two biggest water multinationals in the world.
A fair and equitable vision for the water management and its recognition as a human right and public good are purposes clearly excluded from the World Water Forum. This and many other reasons have motivated organizations from all around the world to held simultaneously the Alternative World Water Forum (FAME).
The Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) is a platform for expression and a gathering place for different water activists to share experiences and accomplishments regarding the right to water and water treatment services. This right would be guaranteed under public, participatory, democrative, transparent, social and ecological management. From this standpoint, we can define future actions for better water policy.
This year, critics of the triennial World Water Forum are encouraged by the failure on the part of forum organizers to attract large numbers to this year's event taking place March 12-17 in Marseille.
Forum organizers announced at a press conference last week that only 2,000 people had fully registered, while another 2,000 were yet to be confirmed. This falls dismally short of the 20,000 participants that had been anticipated.
The small number of registrations also comes despite the fact that various national, regional and municipal authorities have poured millions of euros of public funds into sponsorship of the event.
"It isn't just the World Water Forum that is failing," says Maude Barlow, senior advisor to the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly. "Water privatization has failed communities around the world and a growing number are now reclaiming control of their water. In this context, it is no surprise that this illegitimate Forum is no longer able to attract attention."
Notably, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already stated that it will not be attending this year.
At the 2009 World Water Forum in Istanbul, 24 governments signed a counter-declaration recognizing water as a human right in opposition to the forum's official ministerial declaration. And in a scathing criticism of the World Water Forum, then-president of the United Nations General Assembly Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann called for the UN to hold its own event to address the global water crisis.
"It is significant for the World Water Forum to show signs of crisis in Marseille, which is where the World Water Council was founded," says French MEP Michèle Rivasi. "Re-municipalization is gaining speed in France, regardless of the strong support for privatization from the French government."
Groups from around the world—who view the forum as a corporate trade show disguised as a multi-stakeholder conference—are organizing the Alternative World Water Forum (in French, Forum Alternatif Mondial de l'Eau, or FAME). They have invited governments to a consultation with civil society outside the forum on the implementation of the human right to water.
For more information, please contact:
Darcey Rakestraw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-683-2467
Gabriella Zanzanaini, email@example.com, +32 488 409 662
Meera Karunananthan, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 613 355 2100