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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Corporate Accountability International: On World Water Day, Stimulus Flows to Public Water

Corporate Accountability International: On World Water Day, Stimulus Flows to Public Water States Still Face Shortfalls, Spend on Bottled Water

BOSTON, March 19 2009 -- Since being designated by the United Nations in 1992, World Water Day has been anything but a Hallmark holiday. Devoted to raising awareness and spurring action around the global water crisis, the holiday has been a flashpoint for protest over water privatization.

This year has been no different. During the corporate-driven World Water Forum in Istanbul, hundreds have taken to the streets to protest corporate water grabs and World Bank water lending policies.

"Too many people are going thirsty and suffering from the manifold downsides of corporate control of water -- water takings, water shut-offs, price hikes, short cuts on water treatment -- for us to pass this holiday without sounding an alarm," said Mark Hays, Corporate Accountability International spokesperson. "Those who are going thirsty don't have a voice in the halls where the global water agenda is being set and a handful of corporations would prefer it remains that way."

Corporate Accountability International and its allies are calling on the United Nations to take the lead in creating a transparent, democratic space to decide international water policy. Absent UN leadership, private interests that stand to profit from scarcity are filling the void in the form of the World Water Forum and other closed-door convenings.
The United Nations has, on the one hand, promoted World Water Day and the basic human right to water, but housed programs that provide water corporations official cover for a range of abuses, such as the CEO Water Mandate. This week 118 organizations and 33 countries called on Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to withdraw support from the Mandate.

In the U.S., a series of events are being organized to spotlight the impact of new stimulus dollars in repairing aging water systems and putting people to work; hundreds of thousands are expected to be employed. At these events, Corporate Accountability International is also calling attention to the spending gap that remains and continued state spending on bottled water. The stimulus package designated $6 billion to public water systems, though we face a $22 billion annual spending gap.

"As state budgets feel the pinch, states should not be spending taxpayer dollars on wasteful products like bottled water," said Gigi Kellett, national director of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign. "Given the important role of states in protecting and funding public water systems, canceling contracts also sends the message 'we have faith in our public tap water.'"
Over the coming week, World Water Day events are planned in St. Paul, Seattle, Albuquerque, Boston, and Montpelier. For more information on local events, developments at the World Water Forum, the national Think Outside the Bottle campaign, or World Water Day visit www.StopCorporateAbuse.org.

SOURCE Corporate Accountability International


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