Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians/Blue Planet Project, Right Livelihood Award Laureate ("Alternative Nobel Prize")
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch, Washington DC
Oscar Olivera, water activist from Cochabamba, Bolivia
Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South, Manila
Olcay Ünver, Coordinator of the UNESCO Water Assessment Programme
Gelinde Schermer, Berlin Water Table
Water resources are polluted, over-extracted and dumped into oceans at an unprecendented rate worldwide, says Maude Barlow. A global water crisis is in the making, affecting particularly poor people in the global south.
All over the world, from Cochabamba to Berlin, water privatization has been challenged in recent years and in many cases reversed, such as in Paris. In Italy, millions vorted in a referendum against water privatization - but the European Central Bank urges the government to privatize nevertheless. One aspect of water privatization is the strategy of bottled water companies like Nestlé and Coca Cola to urge people to buy bottled water instead of using public water services.
In 2010, the access to clean water and sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a human right. Maude Barlow was key to make that happen. Nevertheless, goverments all over the world are far from implementing this right in terms of concrete polcies. The UN water millennium goals are going to fail, says Barlow, although the UN claims to fulfill them, as the indicators are misleading.
"Fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) is a technology used in the US as well as in Europe to press large amounts of natural gas out of hard rock slate. Studies have shown that ground water thus becomes contaminated with various chemicals. Fracking is also suspected of being able to trigger earthquakes. The non-governmental organisation Food and Water Watch has just published a comprehensive study with the title: " Fracking. The New Global Water Crisis". Kontext TV asked the Executive Director of Food and Water Watch, Wenonah Hauter, which effects Fracking has on the water supply.
Asia is, besides Africa, the continent which will most seriously be affected by the water crisis. The melting of the Himalayan glaciers due to climate change as well as the overuse and pollution of water resources by industry and agriculture, will present the growing populations in Asia with enormous challenges. Kontext TV with Mary Ann Manahan from the Philippines, water expert at the organisation Focus on the Global South, about the situation in Asia, especially in China and in the Philippines. We also asked her what she expects from the earth summit in Rio de Janeiro and about the concept represented there of a „green economy“.
The year 2000 brought a significant victory against water privatisation in Bolivia. Massive protests in Cochabamba forced the Bolivian government to revoke the contract it had with the US Corporation Bechtel. Under pressure from the World Bank the government had sold the water companies in Cochabamba to Bechtel. One of the organizers of these, known as water war protests, was the trade union leader Oscar Olivera. Fighting at his side, at the time, was also Evo Morales who in 2006 became Bolivia’s first indigenous president. Nevertheless, Olivera later turned down the government posts Morales offered to him. Today he involves himself, beyond government policy, as an environmental activist and activist for human rights for water justice and for the rights of nature. Olivera was also the role model for the central figure in the recently appeared film „Even the Rain“, which ties the water war in Cochabamba to the colonization of Latin America.