friends of the earth international
New report blasts water and biodiversity privatization
Porto Alegre (Brazil), January 28, 2005 -- A new report released today at the World Social Forum documents the negative social and environmental impact of water and biodiversity privatization through thirty-four stories from across the globe.
The case against water privitization is growing, according to the report published by Friends of the Earth International.
"More and more people find themselves priced out of privatized water markets, water delivery and quality have hardly improved, and water sources are being depleted rapidly," said Tatiana Roa of CENSAT AGUA VIVA/ Friends of the Earth Colombia speaking in Porto Alegre.
The report also points out that in poor countries Indigenous Peoples and local communities are losing their forests, fish and biodiversity at a rapid rate as their lands are progressively handed over to logging, tourism and private park management companies. This trend is stimulated by the growing market of so-called carbon parks that are developed to offset the carbon emissions caused by fossil fuel-addicted Northern consumers. It is especially International Financial Institutions like the World Bank, which are promoting these market-based approaches to biodiversity conservation.
The report also focuses on "biopiracy", the privatization of biodiversity through rapidly growing amounts of patents on life forms and related traditional knowledge. While most biodiversity and traditional knowledge is found in developing countries, the overwhelming majority of these patents are in the hands of western transnational corporations.
A group of so-called mega-diverse countries with exceptionally high levels of biodiversity, like Brazil and India, recently announced their intention to establish an international agreement to address biopiracy.
However, as long as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights forces governments to permit the establishment of patents and other intellectual property rights on life, Friends of the Earth International fears that such an agreement will only legitimize and promote biopiracy.
"Large corporations are pushing governments within the WTO and regional trade negotiations to establish even stronger trade agreements that will make it impossible for governments to protect their Indigenous Peoples and local communities against this corporate take-over of water and biodiversity" added Simone Lovera of Friends of the Earth International.
The full report is online:
In English at
In French at
In Spanish at
For more information call Friends of the Earth International in Porto Alegre (Brazil) :
Simone Lovera of Friends of the Earth International +31-6-10897827 (Dutch mobile number)
Tatiana Roa of Friends of the Earth Colombia +55-51-91640663 (Brazilian mobile number valid only until January 31)
Niccolo Sarno (Press officer) +55-51-91973608 (Brazilian mobile number valid only until January 31)
Landowner Sakas Aonomo, on a stockpile of logs at Log Camp 56, Middle Fly, Western Province,PNG. His family is opposed to the logging and they are trying to prevent further roads from passing through their land. “By looking at that place I feel very sad and upset and frustrated about my land being destroyed .”
In the developing world, 1.2 billion people live under the poverty line, earning less than $1 a day. Of the 4 billion cases of diarrhea each year, 2.2 million people die unnecessarily. Preventable water-related diseases kill 5 million people every year, 4 million of them children. Today, an estimated 1.2 billion people lack access to a safe water supply and 2.4 billion do not have adequate sanitation.
These are disturbing statistics, as the technology exists and resources are there to deal with this crisis. A fraction of the trillion dollars a year governments spend on the military would make it possible to go well beyond the UN Millennium Development Goals on clean water and sanitation. Investment in water, unlike war, would save an estimated 125 billion dollars a year in direct medical expenses and costs associated with lower economic productivity related to preventable water-related diseases.
Unfortunately, the solution chosen by governments does not focus on increasing public investment. Instead, international policy makers, lobbied heavily by the private sector, are facilitating increased private investment and management as the way out of the crisis. The world’s poorest people, especially women and children, are desperately in need of safe water and sanitation services. As the experience documented in this publication shows, however, the poor can lose access to these basic services when profit-oriented transnational water companies move in.
In the same way, Indigenous Peoples and local communities increasingly find themselves excluded from forests and other biologically rich areas they have traditionally lived in and utilised. These lands are progressively being handed over to logging, tourism and private park management companies. They are also being reserved for a new breed of company that establishes “carbon parks” – a new and lucrative avenue intended to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of rich fossil fuel addict consumers in the North.
Friends of the Earth International is actively resisting this corporate takeover of nature’s wealth. We are fighting for people’s rights - to water, land, seeds and knowledge. The 34 national stories gathered in this publication document not only the negative social and environmental impact of water and biodiversity privatization, but also how our member groups are actively resisting such privatization in their countries.