Turning water into money

Talk of trading access to water on an open market stirs controversy, but it’s already a reality in Alberta
by Nicholas Kohler on Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:20pm - MacLeans.ca

Last month, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestlé SA, the world’s largest food company, made a splash in Alberta for announcing, via an interview with Reuters in Geneva, that Nestlé was in talks with the Alberta government to establish a so-called water exchange—a market in which water, life’s sine qua non, could be bought and sold just like wheat, pork bellies or any other commodity. “We are actively dealing with the government of Alberta to think about a water exchange,” said Brabeck-Letmathe, describing the province as ideal for such a scheme because water there is scarce and competition for the resource between farmers and oil sands operators is fierce.

Prominent scientists, environmentalists decry cuts to public sector and their effect on Canada's freshwater heritage

OTTAWA, July 4, 2011 /CNW/ - Prominent scientists, environmentalists and groups issued a statement addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today decrying cuts to Environment Canada and the impact they will have on Canada's freshwater sources.

The statement is endorsed by nearly 50 environmental, social justice, women's and First Nations organizations, including the Council of Canadians, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Keepers of the Athabasca Watershed Council, Métis Women's Circle, Mining Watch Canada, National Council of Women of Canada, National Network on Environments and Women's Health, Polaris Institute, Public Service Alliance of Canada, and Sierra Club Canada, among others.

CEO Water Mandate: Why a Corporate Power Grab at the UN Threatens Our Most Critical Resource

By Scott Thill, AlterNet

Posted on June 23, 2011, Printed on June 27, 2011

Early this month, pharmaceutical titan Merck became the latest multinational to pledge allegiance to the CEO Water Mandate, the United Nations' public-private initiative "designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices."

Another Cost of Bottled Water: Environmental Injustice and Inequity

We've known for a long time that bottled water costs far more than safe, reliable, municipal tap water systems, with those costs falling on individuals, communities, and the environment. But there is new and growing evidence that the failure to provide safe drinking water, or the fear (or reality) of contamination in tap water that forces people to buy bottled water, imposes special financial burdens on poor and minority communities. Three new lines of evidence support these conclusions:

Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs

Earlier this week the California based Oakland Institute released a series of in-depth reports that uncover how large scale investments in land in Africa are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, water loss, and the further impoverishment and political instability of African nations.

Polaris Institute Executive Director Tony Clarke, who is a member of the Oakland Institute's board of directors, prepared a statement for the launch of the special investigation that uncovers the massive water takings that accompany these troublesome land grabs in Africa.

Visit the Oakland Institute's website to find out more about land grabs in Africa: www.oaklandinstitute.org

Statement by Tony Clarke:

Water Grabs Accompany Huge Land Grabs

Government of Manitoba to Stop Buying Bottled Water

For Immediate Release

June 8th 2011 - Yesterday, the government of Manitoba announced that its offices and departments would not be allowed to spend money on single-use bottled water where tap water is readily accessible. Over the last five years, the government had spent an estimated 700,000$ on purchasing bottled water. With this newest initiative in the nation-wide push-back against the bottled water industry, Manitoba becomes the 2nd province to implement a similar policy, following in the footsteps of Nova Scotia.

Challenging the CEO Water Mandate

May 18, 2011 - Corporate Accountability International (CAI), one of the Polaris Institute's main allies in its struggle to confront the coporate control of water, delivered a letter today signed by over 100 global civil society organizations to the Director General of the World Health Organization. The letter urges the Director General to encourage UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to address widespread concerns about corporate conflicts of interest regarding global water governance, health and nutrition policy. The letter also asks Ban Ki Moon to withdraw the UN’s support for the corporate-driven CEO Water Mandate.

See CAI's press release below and read the letter here

Global Civil Society Groups call on WHO, UN to protect water and reject corporate conflicts of interest

Report exposes risks of privatization of Canadian municipal water services

CUPE-Quebec and Eau Secours! produced a report and recommendations on the implications of the Canadian - European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations on water.

The report explains and speaks against the inclusion of public services markets, including municipal water services in the negotiations. Lobbying from large European corporations, including large water services companies, seems to have played a role in putting these public services on the agenda for the CETA talks that are slated to come to a close by the end of the year. We must not let this pass.

This report also refers to a 2010 Council of Canadians and CUPE report on how CETA opens up our water services to privatization to the detriment of the citizens. You can read it here.

Polaris Institute protests Canadian mining company

New Gold is Risky Business: Opposition to Mexican Mine Heard at AGM

May 4, 2011 - (Toronto, Canada) Images and testimonials will alert New Gold shareholders at today’s annual meeting about the ongoing opposition to the company’s mine in Cerro San Pedro Mexico.

“We want to send a clear message to shareholders,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Opposition to the Cerro de San Pedro mine isn’t going away and that means investing in New Gold is risky business.”

Harden-Donahue was part of a Canadian delegation heading to the UN climate talks in Cancun last December that visited the small village of Cerro de San Pedro, located directly beside the mine. Delegates met and heard testimonies from local populations opposed to the mine, who are gravely concerned with the impact on the historic village, water supplies, health and the surrounding environment.

City of Toronto Maintains Bottled Water Ban

In the face of intense lobbying from the bottled water industry, Toronto City Council voted down a motion on Wednesday night that would have overturned the city's 2008 bottled water ban. Wednesday's events show that Canadian municipalities are not giving in to industry pressure led by Nestlé to rescind good public policy. Toronto is the biggest city in the world to have banned bottled water and now joins the City of London (Ont) in rejecting industry pleas to reverse bottled water bans.

Bid to lift ban on bottled water goes down drain

Don Peat, Toronto Sun, April 13, 2011 - A bid to ban Toronto’s ban on bottled water was washed away Wednesday.