Saturday, November 22, 2008

Essential water

"Contrary to officialdom, there are some groups thinking very hard indeed about water and water-shortages: among them the corporations and the military. Because the rest of this contribution will be devoted to[1] the corporate attempt to gain control over water and [2] likely future strategic conflicts; let me repeat that, given water’s unique economic characteristics, its skewed distribution, its mistreatment by humanity and the demonstrated negligence of governments; the only way to manage it fairly is to consider it a universal public good and to promote democratic control over water supply, treatment and allocation.

Another group taking water issues seriously is the community of Non-Governmental Organisations and social-movement experts and activists. Some of them speak of water as a “human right”. I prefer “universal public good” because this concept encompasses the economic aspects whereas the word “right” tends to convey, at least to some, the notion of an unlimited free resource. I share, however, the same basic view as these colleagues: Everyone needs water for survival; therefore defending life means defending water. Although these social forces may not have the same weight as the companies and the military, the reader must not become discouraged as we proceed! We shall also be hearing some remarkably hopeful news about victorious popular struggles for control over water, of exactly the kind recommended here. The more public awareness of the problem and of these success stories, the more they are likely to spread."

The always excellent Susan George in a long article on water. Essential reading.

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