Towards the next UN Water Conference in March 2023
In light of the United Nations General Assembly convening the Conference on the Comprehensive Mid-Term Review of the Implementation of the Goals of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028 (the 2023 UN Water Conference) in New York, from March 22-24, 2023, preceded by the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum, held in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations in Geneva, from November 3-4, focused on Water for Human Rights and Sustainable Development: Good Practices, Lessons Learned and Challenges in Implementing the International Decade for Action, water justice movements call for active and creative participation to influence these processes and parallel and alternative actions to oppose and counteract the lobbying and capture of these agendas by corporate power.
Faced with the crisis of civilization imposed by capitalism, which is expressed in the climate crisis and that promotes accumulation, dispossession and limitless consumerism, water justice movements demand that the UN agenda resume discussion of water as a substance of life and a common good that should never be subject to commodification, commercialization and financialization. It is also urgent that the destruction and pollution of vital water sources by extractive industries and industrial agriculture be stopped. It is imperative that discussions of water as a common good, a right and the integrality of human rights be informed by the public interest and not by the interests of corporations and global water markets.
Water, its uses and management, are closely related to democratic mechanisms and human rights, and it is incomprehensible to praise a world as democratic in which sophisticated forms of privatization and deprivation of water are present in vast regions and countries. The privatization of water territories, ecosystems essential to the hydrosocial cycle, public water systems for human consumption and/or their management components, together with the disregard of territorial and democratic management of water by organized community systems, are corporate devices of dispossession of the material and immaterial heritage of communities.
This appeal calls for the presence and voice of Indigenous peoples, oppressed and repressed communities and peoples, peasant and popular urban communities, women who are the protagonists of struggles and actions of resistance and for the defense of water and life and in processes of community water management, union organizations, public water operators and users, based on their own words, experiences and lived practices, fundamental as alternatives to dispossession and privatization.
The Social Forum taking place in Geneva is of vital importance. We urge the different actors, countries, delegations, organizations and social movements present to focus the discussion on the relationship between the human right to water and world/global democracy and on frank discussion of the crisis of civilization, the climate emergency and the transitions necessary to preserve life on the planet.
Within the framework of the presentation of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Pedro Arrojo-Agudo’s Report in New York in March 2023, we invite the active participation of social networks and organizations; their mobilization is essential. It is vital that the mobilization of alliances of social movements, public and/or community operators establishes a counterweight to the strong corporate lobby within the framework of the event and in favor of public and democratic management of water.
In the same way, we salute and express our support for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and his call for the integrality of human rights. This call finds resonance with the observations made by the Rapporteurs of Environment, Indigenous peoples and Health aimed at the protection, respect and effective enjoyment of the human right to water, land and territory, housing, participation and the progressiveness of ESCER.
Participating and proposing.
It is urgent and necessary to maintain, deepen and find resonance in the dialogue between social movements that fight for water as a human right and a common good. It is also urgent that we create a common and democratic front to prevent the 2023 United Nations Water Conference from ending up as another forum co-opted by private interests and environmental predators.
Our organizations and networks will hold events in which we will spread this call and deliberate on alternatives. In Colombia, the eighth national meeting of community aqueducts of Colombia in defense of community water management was held from August 12-15, and we will hold the “Our Future is Public” conference in Chile, from November 29 – December 2 to raise public awareness and create political momentum around the importance of strong and innovative public services to ensure human rights and meet the challenges of the 21st century.
We must denounce the corporate water agenda and propose socio-ecological alternatives that allow the permanence of life on our planet and guarantee the well being of our communities and peoples. Join this global call.
African Water Commons Collective
Aigua és Vida, Catalonia
Asociación Española de Operadores Públicos de Abastecimiento y Saneamiento, Spain
Asociación Internacional de Ingeniería Sin Fronteras, Spain
Blue Planet Project, Canada
Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila, Colombia
Fundación Abril, Bolivia
Observatório Nacional dos Direitos à Água e ao Saneamento, ONDAS, Brazil
Red Agua Pública, Spain
Red Nacional de Acueductos Comunitarios, Colombia
International networks and organizations
Africa Water Justice Network
Blue Planet Project
Ecumenical Water Network
European Water Movement
The Oakland Institute, USA
Peoples’ Water Forum
Plataforma de Acuerdos Público Comunitarios de las Américas, PAPC
Public Services International
Red Vigilancia Interamericana para la Defensa y Derecho al Agua, REDVIDA