Press release of Attac France.
With the support of the French government and many local government authorities, water multinationals will be holding the World Water Forum from March 12 to 17, 2012 in Marseille. This Forum for water merchants is meant to strengthen privatization and control of an essential element of life. This forum lacks legitimity, and this is why Attac and its many international and national partner organizations will be holding FAME (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau) or the Alternative World Water Forum from March 14 to 17 in Marseille. FAME aims to give alternatives that guarantee access to clean water for everyone on the planet.
Recently questioned, Secretary of State under the Minister of Ecology, Benoist Apparu, spoke on behalf of the French government saying he regretted that the alternative forums are not able to create conditions under which a real debate could take place at the World Water Forum. However the World Water Council, the WWF’s organizer, is the party that is preventing a real debate from taking place. An association of companies, professionals, and governmental institutions, the Council is a private organization that appropriates the global water policy, promoting the commoditization of this common good.
The plundering of this common good by multinationals has worsened the water crisis, and the “Millennium objectives” about drinking water and sanitation will be not reached. The main reason is not water shortage: plundered by multinationals, water is wasted and exploited for strictly financial reasons, favoring profitability and technology that is high in consumption, to the detriment of water accessibility. This occurs despite the fact that the United Nations just recognized that access to water is a fundamental human right. All over the world, in France, in Italy, all the way to Bolivia, citizen-run movements and alternatives are showing that the multinationals’ control over water is not inevitable.
The World Water Council’s objective is not to give water to those in need, but to sell more water to those who can pay: What can we base our dialogue on if our objectives are in such contradiction? If Attac, in cooperation with other associations from civil society, is committed to organizing FAME, this is because there is a need for a place where different movements can join together, express the people’s aspirations to take control of this common good, share experiences, and affirm the complete illegitimacy of the World Water Council as a leader in global water management.
The French government, while providing €4M out of the €16.5M of public financing towards the WWF (not counting €6.9M from Véolia, Suez, EDF and CCIM), decided to refrain from financially supporting FAME. With this gesture, the government is clearly taking the multinationals’ side, showing little consideration for those who are victims of these water vendors and who work towards giving back water to the people and redefining public service. The government says it wants to “organize a bridge between the Forum and the Alternative Forum.” But until the government ends its support for these multinationals, these bridges cannot be built.
FAME follows a charter of principles, and we are calling all people who share these beliefs to join our alternative forum in order strengthen our resistance and develop existing alternatives. Those who do not share the same values as the WWF are also welcome. But there will be not be any bridges joining FAME and the water merchants.