ISTANBUL, Turkey – March 19 – International water justice activists converged at the People’s Water Forum today to affirm the human right to water and present diverse visions of existing public and community-led water management practices that protect water for people and nature, and can ensure water access for all regardless of their ability to pay.
Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water to UN General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, delivered a statement from him. D’Escoto was clear: “Water is a public trust, a common heritage of people and nature, and a fundamental human right…We must challenge the notion that water is a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market. Those who are committed to the privatization of water…are denying people a human right as basic as the air we breathe.”
A diverse group of water justice activists also presented their forward-looking visions. Mary Ann Manahan, of Focus on the Global South in the Philippines said “Access to water and sanitation is not only about efficiency and effective delivery but about justice, gender equity, human dignity and ultimately, democracy.”
Sebahat Tuncet, a member of Turkey’s Parliament, issued a strong statement against the construction of large dams, condemning especially the Ilisu and Munzur dams and others under consideration for construction throughout the region.
Adriana Marquisio, a member of Public Services International and President of Uruguay’s Public Water Union, urged that water be managed publicly and not for profit. “But let us be clear,” she added, “that the meaning of ‘public’ extends beyond state control. Public management must recognize alternative, community-led structures of governance.”
Philipp Terhorst of Transnational Institute, speaking for the European Water Network, criticized the recent EU Parliament’s resolution that fails to recognize the human right to water.
Also speaking at the conference was Al-hassan Adam, Coordinator of the Africa Water Network, who condemned the repression of activists, which, he said, reflects the larger exclusion of the majority of people from basic human rights.
These speakers represent a wide spectrum of visionary leaders offering practical, equitable, and just solutions to the world’s current water crisis, said organizers of the Peoples Water Forum.