European Water Movement meeting in Barcelona - Final declaration

On October 1, 2 and 3, the European Water Movement met in person in Barcelona to analyze the current situation in this time of climate crisis and pandemic, review the main water issues and plan its activity in the short and medium term. This meeting brought together more than 40 people from 9 countries (Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Serbia).

In the context of the climate emergency, it is urgent to address in a participatory manner the impacts of climate change on the availability of water resources and the management of extreme events, which will intensify.

For recognition of human rights to water and sanitation

The COVID 19 pandemic has had a significant impact with a significant increase in poverty and situations of social and economic vulnerability. The availability of water, a common good, fundamental for life, hygiene and health, has become a central issue. Many governments have taken positive social protection measures to secure water supplies and ban water cuts, which are now receding. As part of the recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation, the European Water Movement calls on governments:

  • to maintain or generalize these measures to prohibit water cuts,
  • guarantee vulnerable people a free minimum supply which covers their basic water needs and enables them to live in dignity,
  • improve the content of the European directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption, which does not systematically take up the demands of the citizens' initiative right2water when transposed into state legislation.

For public water management and a fight against the grabbing of water sources

The European Water Movement continues to be firmly committed against privatization and the grabbing of water sources.

We note with satisfaction a slow but significant increase in remunicipalisation processes, which, in many cases, have been carried out in the face of radical opposition from private lobbies. However, there is still firm resistance in favor of privatization and with clearly insufficient governance and citizen participation mechanisms.

We note with great concern the European policy in favor of private players as defined in the Next Generation EU plan and int the related national Recovery Plans. On the other hand, the growing influence of financial actors in the development of water and sanitation service infrastructure imposes a speculative logic that predominates in the financial world. Water cannot be a financial asset whose value is established in financial markets.

We consider rivers, aquifers, lakes and wetlands to be common goods. Their management must therefore be carried out on a non-profit basis and according to criteria of solidarity, mutual cooperation, collective access, equity, democratic control, sustainability and non-deterioration of water bodies. We are therefore very concerned about the construction of hydropower plants in rivers and protected areas, especially in the Balkan countries. 

Participate and contribute to the success of the Alternative World Water Forum

The European Water Movement calls on all citizen movements acting in favor of the cause of water to participate in the Alternative World Water Forum which will take place in 2022 in Dakar, Senegal. The European Water Movement will be present there and will bring the requirements indicated above. Finally, the European Water Movement sets itself the objective of improving its contacts with organizations that share its struggles at the international level.

Attendees of the meeting in Barcelona