In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!

It’s too often forgotten that the land grabs happening around the world are always about land and something else. There is, after all, plenty of land, but no one seems to be scrambling to own large chunks of the Sahara, Moroccan conflicts notwithstanding. Land grabs are for land and future development prospects, land and oil, land and timber. Most often, land and water. Hence this press release from La Via Campesina, below the fold.

In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!

Declaration of La Via Campesina in the Alternative World Water Forum

We, as peasants’ and farmers’ organizations from countries all over the world, members of La Via Campesina, met between the 12th and 17th of March 2012, for the Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille, France. Delegates from Turkey, Brazil, Mali, Mexico and other countries gave voice to the distress of “environmental victims”, making known the plight of people affected by dam construction, by the shale gas and mining industries, by the grabbing, commodification, scarcity and widespread pollution of water, and by the repression and murder of activists who are defending water.

We demand that the right “of” and “to” water should be respected within the framework of food sovereignty. The right “of” water means continuous respect for the entire water cycle.

We state that the privatization and commodification of water and of any other common good (land, seeds, knowledge, etc.) are crimes against the planet and against humanity. Large-scale dams and hydro-electric projects grab and sequester water, taking no account of the needs, traditional practices and opinions of local communities, and totally disregarding the protection of ecosystems. The water and biodiversity crises, the social and financial crises, and the energy crisis are all linked. They are the consequences of neo-liberalism and of the industrial agricultural model that is promoted by the international financial institutions (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization), through free trade agreements, by the World Water Council, and by transnational Corporations as well as by most national governments.

The Green Economy is a false solution to climate change and water scarcity. The supposed answers to the crises: the commodification of water, of carbon and of biodiversity; nanotechnology; geo-engineering; and GMOs represent new opportunities for neo-liberal economic expansion. Despite the fact that these technology-driven and market-driven responses are the main cause of the environmental and social chaos that we are suffering, neo-liberalism’s headlong rush continues. The industrial model of production, with its monoculture and its agro-chemicals, has polluted our water and endangered our health.

We defend agro-ecological practices and small-scale and peasant agriculture that put into effect food sovereignty and contribute to the protection and sustainable use of water. Water is a common good for the benefit of all living beings and it should be under public, democratic, local and sustainable management. Local and traditional systems of knowledge regarding forms of water management that take into account and protect the whole ecosystem have existed for thousands of years; they have demonstrated over time their effectiveness.

We believe that public policies and laws related to water should recognize and respect this knowledge.

In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!

La Via Campesina
Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. We are an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent of any political, economic, or other type of affiliation. Born in 1993, La Via Campesina now gathers about 150 organisations in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

International Operational Secretariat:
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV no 5 Jakarta Selatan 12790, Indonesia
Tel/fax: +62-21-7991890/+62-21-7993426

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Isabelle Dos Reis
Via Campesina Office for Africa 1 (Southern, Eastern and Central Africa)
Maputo – Mozambique
Skype : isabelle.dosreis
Tel/Fax at the Office : (+258) 2132 7895
Cell: (+258) 827 711 439

One Reply to “In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!”

  1. Teach-in

    Lots of information on following link:

    In June this year, twenty years after the original 1992 Earth Summit, the United Nations will once again bring together a conference to discuss the environment and the global economy. The conference hopes to discuss what they call the ‘green economy’, a follow-on concept from ‘sustainable development’.

    The ‘green economy’ consists of (i) giving nature and ‘ecosystem services’ a financial value which can be used to facilitate trading, as has already taken place for carbon emissions, and (ii) using new ‘green’ technologies such synthetic biology/biomass and ‘geo-engineering’ to combat environmental problems.

    Teach In

    Hope or hype? Will new technologies build a real green economy or perpetuate the current greedeconomy?

    · Whose interests are served by such technocratic ‘green solutions’?
    · What are the risks of synthetic biology and geoengineering?
    · What’s wrong with putting financial values on nature?
    · Can we build a real green economy based upon economic justice?

    Planet Under Pressure

    The teach-in will happen just before the Royal Society’s “Planet Under Pressure” conference, a large international technology conference preparing for the RIO Earth Summit.

    The Planet Under Pressure conference will happen in the ExCel centre, London from March 26th through 29th (Monday -Thursday). The Conference is organised by the Royal Society and the IGBP (an international science group) with the tagline “New Knowledge Towards Solutions”. In the words of the conference website they intend to “provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Rio +20 conference”. Plenary speakers and panellist include a speaker from the World Bank, a Shell Oil Company Vice President, and the Chief Scientist of the UK. Individual participation in the conference costs over 400£.


    Isn’t it time to open up global decision making about our future to all the people who will be affected?

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