International trade strategies for water could spark global conflict
Trade investment strategies driven by big business are in danger of turning water into a commodity, a Friends of the Earth study has warned.
The report Economic drivers of water financialization highlights a number of cases across the world in which corporations, financial institutions, trade agreements and cooperation strategies are paving the way for water privatisation.
The study also suggests that these factors often cause territorial conflicts while providing greater impunity and profits for the corporations concerned.
One of the researchers, William Waren from Friends of the Earth US, argued that International trade and investment agreements were threatening people's right to water.
"It is essential that nations that are members of the World Trade Organisation and other trade and investment agreements listen to their people and stop any attempt by corporate and financial interests to turn water into a mere commodity traded on international markets," he said.
"The traditional view under international law is that water is a natural resource and part of the public commons, not a good or product."
The report includes proposals from communities around the world to secure community water management and to keep water as a common good and a human right.
One case study within the document, dubbed as a "major injustice", highlights the water situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), where locals suffer from structural water scarcity due to inequitable distribution.
According to friends of the Earth, in some places Palestinian farmers have been forced to purchase water at high prices from water sources controlled by the Israeli Water Company, which leads to many problems, including increased production costs for agricultural crops.