In observance of World Water Day on March 22, approximately 400 people took part in a March For Water on the streets of Los Angeles. The three-mile march was symbolic of the distance much of the world’s population walks on a daily basis for clean water to drink and to cook with.
Defending the Right to Water
More than 20 countries have signed a declaration recognizing water as a basic human right. The declaration was presented as an alternative to a weaker statement on water access issued at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul in March.
The World Water Forum, held every three years, is led by The World Water Council, an association dominated by private water corporations. Activists and many governments have argued that such industry involvement undermines the credibility of the meetings and has led to water policies that promote corporate profit over human health and access.
Hundreds of activists protested outside the Istanbul forum, shouting “water for life, not for profit.”
Sixteen countries have also signed a second statement calling on the United Nations to assume leadership of the international water meeting. Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, has backed this proposal.
“This creates terrific momentum in the U.N. to responsibly steward our water commons, to ensure that water is not a commodity and that people and nature receive their fair share,” says Barlow.
Worldwide, more than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and scientists predict global warming will lead to more frequent and severe water shortages in years to come.
—Daniel Moss lives in Mexico and co-coordinates Our Water Commons, www.onthecommons.org/water.
Interested? Watch an interview with the director of Flow: How do a handful of corporations steal our water?
“While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder.”
Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director of the Mid-America Croplife Association
Maine Towns Fight Back
Three towns in Maine—Shapleigh, Newman, and Wells—have passed ordinances that strip corporations of the rights of “personhood,” a legal concept that allows companies to claim the same rights as individual citizens.
The ordinances are aimed at stopping the extraction of local groundwater, which the Swiss food corporation Nestlé bottles and sells under the label Poland Springs. For years, Maine communities have fought the company’s efforts to expand its water bottling operations.
The towns also recognized the rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish and the rights of citizens to self-govern—including the right to protect their groundwater by placing it in a public trust.
—Brooke Jarvis is a freelance writer based in Maryville, Tennessee.
New Protection for 2 Million Acres of Wilderness
Two million acres of wilderness in nine states will receive new protection under a bill signed into law by President Obama on March 30. The measure has been called the most significant conservation victory in the last 15 years.
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