Making peace with (the) water !

Lisbon, 21 March 2024


At a time when humanity is experiencing great dangers, where new conflicts and military aggressions persist and emerge and the predatory action of the great powers in the dispute over natural resources is increasingly aggressive, the theme chosen by the United Nations to celebrate World Water Day, which is celebrated on 22 March, "Water for Peace", could not be more topical.

Of course, it's not water itself that creates peace or triggers conflicts, but rather its unequal distribution and control, the root of co-operation and conflict over it. By prioritising the interests of multinationals and financial groups, and the consumption of those who can afford it, rather than the needs of the people, workers, small farmers and the poorest, global water management is failing to fulfil the UN's vision of "Water for Peace".

The injustices in this area continue to be manifold: more than two billion people do not have access to drinking water at home; 3.6 billion do not have access to sanitation; 80 per cent of all wastewater is disposed of without treatment.

One of the most blatant contemporary examples of water injustice is the situation in Gaza. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have long been denied their right to water. Water, an essential commodity for life, has become an instrument of war. For more than five months, Palestinians have had no access to drinking water sources and continue to face threats to their health and dignity. We condemn the ongoing genocide in Gaza committed by Israel, the human rights violations, including the denial of access to basic human needs such as drinking water and food.

We reaffirm that water is a right and should not be a business, even more attractive in situations of scarcity or drought. We need to guarantee that access, use and safeguarding of water resources are committed to public management and ownership and the corresponding investment, if we want to avoid conflicts arising.

At a national level, where three out of four families are struggling to make ends meet, what successive PS, PSD and CDS governments have done is turn water into a commodity and an instrument for accumulating profit.

This is what has determined the increasing withdrawal of responsibilities from the state and the weakening of public water administration services.

This is why, despite the risks, we continue to see the proliferation of intensive and super-intensive crops that consume more than 80 per cent of the water, as can be seen in the perimeter of the Alqueva Multipurpose Development.

This is the reason for using the drought, particularly in the Algarve, as an argument to justify price rises, trying to pass the burden of the problem on to municipalities, families and small farmers. But the underlying problem is not the drought, but the fact that we are consuming more water than is feasible to feed a growth model, both agricultural and tourist, that is unfair and unsustainable.

This is what explains why the private groups that own the dams continue to seriously damage ecosystems and the various uses of water, making it clear that the Albufeira Convention, designed to favour large economic interests, must be urgently changed.

This is what is forcing the "aggregations" of municipal water systems, blocking access to EU funds for municipalities that don't give up municipal management, in other words, excluding 72 per cent of mainland municipalities, disrespecting local autonomy and failing to respond to the main needs posed by the management of networks and their urgent rehabilitation.

The fight against privatisation in recent years has been strong and has achieved victories: Mafra, Fafe, Paredes and Setúbal have even regained public water management, resulting in lower prices and better quality services.

However, the threats remain and could increase with the victory of the right in the legislative elections, given their history and objectives, and with the increasing pressure from big business for control and ownership of water resources.

An example of this is the use of public-private partnerships for water desalination plants, such as the one planned for the Algarve, a highly energy-intensive activity with considerable environmental impacts - for every litre of drinking water created through water desalination, there are around 1.5 litres of polluted liquid waste. If this toxic brine is pumped back into the sea, it depletes oxygen and affects organisms along the food chain.

Recalling that universal access to water in Portugal is a right won with the April 1974 Revolution, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, STAL and Associação Água Pública reaffirm that water is a public good, a fundamental human right whose ownership, management and provision falls entirely within the public sphere and democratic deliberation. What is required, therefore, is to build quality public services, close to the people, equipped with the appropriate means to guarantee universal access to water and sanitation and to ensure better working conditions.

It is with public water that red carnations and peace are watered !

STAL / Associação Água Pública 

The European Water Movement lends its support to “Les Soulèvements de la Terre”


For the past 2 years, “les Soulèvements de la Terre” has been leading or joining forces in the fight against a multitude of absurd projects that are harmful to the environment and nature, in particular water-related projects such as the mega-basins at Sainte Soline.

In the face of popular support and the symbolic significance of their actions, “les Soulèvements de la Terre” has been subjected to a campaign of denigration and stifling, ranging from accusations of eco-terrorism to an attempt by the government to dissolve the organisation. This campaign has just suffered a major setback with the suspension of their dissolution by the courts. This is a 1st victory, as this fundamental decision remains temporary.

The European Water Movement, share not only the fight against mega-basins, but also the idea that the struggle to preserve the common good that is water is intimately linked to the other struggles highlighted by “les Soulèvements de la Terre”. We are also convinced that these struggles know no borders.

The European Water Movement therefore :

  • Calls on its members and all those who can to join the current water convoy, which will arrive in Paris on Saturday 26 August;
  • Calls on the French government to cease its relentless efforts to dissolve “les Soulèvements de la Terre”;
  • Lends its full support to “les Soulèvements de la Terre”:

Africa Water Justice Network Condemns Apartheid Israeli Government's Irony in Showcasing Water Governance in Africa

Accra, Ghana - The Africa Water Justice Network, a Pan-African water justice group, vehemently condemns the seminar held on 10th July by the City of Tshwane in collaboration with representatives of the apartheid Israeli government, showcasing alleged "international best practices" in water governance. We are deeply concerned about the irony of the apartheid Israeli government attempting to present itself as a model for water governance, while simultaneously perpetuating human rights violations and exposing their intentions to pursue water privatization in Africa for profit at the expense of low-income communities who cannot afford market rates for water.



The SEDIF project is not viable from the point of view of European water policy either. On Tuesday 18 July, the European Parliament's Petitions Committee gave urgent consideration to a petition initiated by our association and took a series of measures to support it. This successful action concludes our campaign as part of the public debate which ends on 20 July, and opens up a new direction for our fight over the coming months. Update of 20 July: the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Ms Dolors Montserrat, has acknowledged the admissibility of the petition and the action taken (letter to be downloaded below).

Update of 20 July: Download the letter from the Chair of the Petitions Committee.

With several co-signatories, we filed a petition with the European Parliament's Committee on Petitions on 12 May 2023. It is registered under number 0478/2023 (it must appear on the European Parliament's website within four months of submission).

On Tuesday 18 July, the European Parliament's Committee on Petitions held an urgent examination of the petition concerning the Syndicat des Eaux d'Île-de-France's plan to use low-pressure reverse osmosis (LPRO) to treat drinking water.


European Water Movement meeting in Brussels (13-15 April 2023) : Final declaration

On April 13, 14 and 15, a meeting in person was held by the European Water Movement (EWM) in Brussels to analyse the status of implementation of the Right to Water in Europe and establish a line of action towards the current critical situation of water in Europe under the threat of droughts, climate crisis, water grabbing, pollution, as well as commodification and privatization policies. The meeting was attended by over 20 people from 9 countries (Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain). This event was also an opportunity to meet some MEPs in order to discuss the future of water in Europe, to illustrate some situations at national and regional level, confirming in the meantime the need to guarantee the Human Right to Water and our position in favour of a public governance of water.

Following our letter to MEPs of last April on the 2023 UN Water Conference and the Manifesto on Water Justice addressed to the UN at the aforesaid Conference, EWM demands that the policy on water pursued throughout Europe and in particular by EU institutions, addressing the following priority issues:

  • Urgent need to preserve water resources and the universal right to water in front of environmental emergencies, pollution and conflicts of interest;
  • Public and participative government of the whole water cycle and its incompatibility with present privatization policies.