• Life without water in via Giolitti

    “Life without water is a nightmare; you cannot cook, you cannot wash yourself, you cannot drink…”
    Roman citizens face rising water costs and disconnections from service as 2011 pro-public management water referendum result continues to be ignored.
    Via Giolitti is located in the centre of Rome, Italy. It lies right next to Termini Central Railway Station and thousands of people cross it every day. What might not be obvious at first is that on it live 300 people that for the past three years have had their access to water appear and disappear without warning. In the last six months alone, ACEA, Rome’s water service company, has cut the residents’ water connection a total of five times.
    The issue first emerged when some of the inhabitants of Via Giolitti could not afford their water bill, which often amounted to up to a combined 100.000€/two years for the 90 flats that comprise the three affected apartment buildings. The price each apartment has to pay after the division has been made often amounts to over 1000€ per year, over twice the highest price of water in Italy—and that’s just for water.
    Even though some of the tenants did pay their absurdly high share, many others could not afford it. After part of the payment was delayed, ACEA took the decision to cut water access to all three buildings, including neighbouring shops and a B&B.

    Anna Mazzone on via Giolitti

    Anna Mazzone was one of the residents that refused to pay. Her bill was 2400€ for two years. Living alone with her two cats, who, as she herself says, do not like water too much, she could not think of a reason why her water bill could be so high. When she made an inquiry with ACEA about it, their reply was that, because there is a single counter for the entire building, it was not practically possible to give her an accurate measurement of her own flat’s water consumption.

    Negotiating with the water company was not an easy affair, and the residents’ questions were not answered. They threatened to close off the busy street in front of Termini Station if their connection was not resumed, and ACEA did allow their water back the same day. However, since then, water access to them has been an on/off affair, coming and going without warning. To illustrate, during the past Easter period, the buildings were without water for 8 days.

     

  • Small steps create big changes

     

    22/06/2015

    Grassroot Youth Democracy project

    Workshop with the students

    Vivekananda Wisdom Missic, Mankundu, Kolkata

    SCI India & Human Wave, India

    the access to
    Fresh & Clean Water
    is a
    Human Right
     
    small steps create big changes
     
     
     
     
    We are in Mankundu, 40 km from Kolkata.
    Today's schedule included a workshop on water conservation in a local school.
    Our plan was to find out, together with the students, why is it that people believe water is a human right and why are activists and citizens all over the world fighting for it.
     
    We started with asking them what Human Rights are. Some of the students had never heard about the existence of them. "Human Rights are rights we all have", said Mandina Pal aged 14. "Without Human Rights you cannot live. They are essential to life", said Sourav Seal aged 16.
    We then wrote on a poster all the Human Rights coming to our minds. Water was the first Human Right to be recognized. It was clear to all the students attending the workshop that without water one cannot live. Not just human beings need water, also do animal and plants. "No water, no life. No blue, no Green"
    Without water, all other human rights are useless. Water is the Queen of Human rights, the prerequiste to the exercise of each and every one of them.
    If it was so obvious that water is a Human Right and not a commercial good to a class of a local middle school in India’s countryside - 40 km away from Kolkota - , how come the United Nation's General Assembly took decades to recognize it as a Right, and officially did only in 2010?
    If water belongs to everyone, why 750 million people do not have access to safe water? Why are some corporations grabbing a natural resource, claiming water is their own property and selling it in the market?
    We asked the students those questions. All of a sudden, the debate got intense, and students understood the contradictions and financial interests lying under the claim that water is a human right.
     
    We have then presented our project to the students, explaining the purpose of our research and global campaign, asking them to be a part of it and fight with us.
     
    Two games helped us getting them in the mood.
    We split the class into two teams and challenged them to put in order the following continents: Asia, Africa, South America, North America and Europe, according to:
    1) The amount of natural water resources.
    2) The percentage of population having access to safe and clean water.
    It was a big surprise indeed to compare their guesses with reality!
     
    The amount of natural resources of one continent, has nothing to do with the possibility of its people to have access to fresh and drinkable water.
     
    The second game was intended to make the students think about water-related illnesses. The two teams had to order the following diseases according to the number of deaths caused between children under 5 : TBC, AIDS, Malaria and Diarrhea.
    Diarrhea is a water-related illness and it is caused by unsafe water. It was a surprise to the students that TBC, Malaria and AIDS put together kill less children than Diarrhea alone. Even more surprising to find out the immediate cure to Diarrhea : one litre of drinkable water, a pinch of salt and a spoon of sugar, as illustrated on the cover of the Magazine Time in 2006. Then why are 1000 children each day dying of diarrhea and infective diseases linked to unsafe water all over the world? "Beacuse many people do not have access to safe water", said the student Dayel Saha.
    However, it is mainly because of ignorance. If Diarrhea causes more deaths than TBC, Malaria and AIDS put together, nonetheless there are no international campaings and donations or "World days" for Diarrhea as there are for AIDS, TBC and Malaria. Clean water doesn't seem to be a hot topic to campaign on, yet, improper sanitation and unsafe water kill more children than anything else.
     
    This is why we asked the students attending the workshop to tell their families and friends about the importance of drinking safe water.
     
    We then asked every student to think about how people in India could fight for water as a human right and how could each of us help to improve and implement the effectiveness of water rights in India.
     
    Have a look at the ides and solutions found by students aged between 14 and 18 of a local school 40km away from Kolkota which would help solving the water-related problems India is currently facing.
     
     
     
    How can we help
    Small steps create big changes
      

    -Water from taps must be clean & drinkable

    -Law against waste of water

    - Water counters in homes to prevent water waste

    -Raise awareness

    -Indian students should raise awareness to those who are not educated

    -Recycling water

    -Our own behaviour has to change assmall steps create big changes

    -Municipalities should supply drinkable water & water of other uses in separated channels

    -Rain water harvesting

    -Tell the companies to not sell water!

    -Advertising against water waste in local areas

    -Request the government to provide fresh water to all

    -Help poor people who don't have fresh water

    -Minimize water pollution

    -Don’t allow drain water to enter the rivers

    -Don’t allow companies to let water into the rivers before purification

    -The installation of saline filtering plants

    -Proper sanitation

    -To clean the garbage from the places that are near the water bodies

    -Not to use plastic, but biodegradable items

     
              
     
    The participants : 
     
    Dayel Saha, Piyali Pal,  Sukanya Das, Mandina Pal, Roshni Gayen,  Juno Gaha Roy, Kobito Malakar, Dipika Roy, Sagasika Mukherjee, Arpita Mondal,Sarkar, Anusree Adhikary, Sourav Seal, D. Bhattacharjee, Sarah Hennig, Jaimoe Kaiser, Jasmin Iwanek, Neha Kumari Shaw, Ushusree Adhikary, Tumpa Roy Ehowdhwy Karrosik M, Mr. Tapas, Kausik, Benedetta Ruffini, Andromachi Karoni

     

    We thank each and every one of you for your participation and involvement!

    It is a pleasure and an honour to meet the youth of the country and exchange our beliefs and thoughts.

     

     

     

     

  • The story of bottled water

    The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to take back the tap, not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.

  • "WATER DROPS" A documentary about water in Greece

    "A documentary for the adventures of water in Greece"
    "A documentary about the adventures of water in Greece."

    http://www.stagonesdoc.gr/en/

    Water privatisation is the most visible and imminent danger our lives face, in an era where all common goods become targets of private speculation. The direct sale of sources and water management networks is the case of obvious privatisation, where one could imagine the consequences. Of course there’s also the less obvious case of indirect water privatisation. It is a process that has started decades ago and its consequences are so devastating for our health that harms our survival. These, both obvious and non-obvious sides of water privatisation will be the central theme of our new documentary.

  • SOSte to NERO - Lynn Boylan

    Lynn Boylan (from Irleand) talks about the SOSTE TO NERO meeting in Thessaloniki/Greece. May, 2015

  • SOSTE TO NEPO

     

    SOSTE TO NEPO (pronounced "soste to nero" in English -- "save the water") and water justice allies have organised the one-year anniversary of last year's referendum and the International conference on water privatization. It took place on May 17th and 18th 2015 at the city hall.

    The President of the Greek Parliament, Zoi Konstantopoulou, has solemnly pledged her support for the implementation of the Human Right to Water as a just societal demand. On May 18th 2014, the people of Thessaloniki organized a popular consultation about the plans of the previous Greek government to privatize water. She made the announcement at a meeting of the Thessaloniki City Council and wants Greece to become the first country to recognize the right.

    Her landmark declaration shows the European Commission that it was mistaken not to introduce legislation recognising this right, especially following the ECI (European Citizens' Initiative) which collected nearly 1.9 million signatures and shows that the issue is still very much alive for Europe’s citizens.

     

     

    Members of the European Parliament will be voting on a report on the ECI Right2Water in the forthcoming weeks. Today Greece sends a message of hope to millions of citizens in Europe that have fought and are fighting against liberalization and privatization of water: that water is a common good.

    Due to the increasing neoliberal pressure, water is becoming a commodity, fulfilling private interests instead of the society's needs. Many governments are collaborating with private bodies in order to profit from water and sewage management through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

    The Greek government, and its extension TAIPED - the body that carries out the sales of public companies - started a bidding process to sell EYATh, which is the water company that manages water supply and sewage in Thessaloniki. Initially, when this company was founded in 1998, it was being managed by the public sector. The process of privatization began when EYATh entered the stock market.

    The first protest against privatization started in 2008 with a three-day hunger strike by EYATh employees. Lack of investment in infrastructure and the increase of sub-contracting network-related water works to private companies has led to rapid implementation of privitization plans .

    The main initiatives among Greek water movements are SOSTE to NEPO, K136, and Water Warriors.

    SOSTE to NEPO, which coordinates all water initiatives including K136, comprises social movements working for the same aim, namely that water should be public, it should be owned by the people, the municipality and/or the state. SOSTE to NEPO has put a lot of effort into informing the population of Thessaloniki on water issues. It prepared voting stations in eleven municipalities of the city of Thessaloniki before the referendum (which was not recognised by the Greek state). These efforts were rewarded: on May 18th 2014, the overwhelming majority of the 218,000 citizens who participated voted against privatization.

    Members present an the conference were: Notis Marias, Member of European Parliament; Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan, Member of European parliament from Ireland and Chair person of food and Safety;Despina Charalambidou, Deputy House Thessaloniki; Kalamaria M.Lamtsidis, the Vice President of the Municipal Council;Yiannis Pantis, the President of THPA.

    Also present were international water movement representatives from Brazil, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain and Germany, who discussed the current situation of water management in their own  counties, as well as in Thessaloniki. On the first day, the conference focused on international solidarity with an emphasis on water as a fundamental right and a common good. The Greek and European organizations requested that the citizens not stop their actions with the referendum and suggested that they continue their struggle to make water a common good and a fundamental human right for all citizens. One of the speakers in the conference, Stavros Ioakimidis from SOSTE to NEPO, argued that “water is utilitarian and has no exchange value, therefore it is not a commodity, it is a social good as there is no article in the Constitution that protects water from the sale and commercialization”.

    In turn, Dorothea Horlin from the Berlin Wassertisch stated: “When we found out what had happened, the water had already been sold in the name of PPP. We fought with the government and we won, so privatization has to be stopped before it becomes active. We will be supporting Greece in the fight on water privatization”. On the other hand, Yiannis Papadimitriou from Arachthos Protection Association and the continent Ecological Organizations Network referred to another aspect of the issue: "we're used to talking about drinking water while neglecting the debate on the privatization of water resources from the bottling companies," he said.  "Bottled water has become a way of life for broad sections of the population”. He added that "we need to fight for a coordinated return to tap water combined with water-saving strategies". 

    David Sanchez, from Food and Water Europe, mentioned that "international solidarity is the key for stopping water privatization. Access to water is one of the most – if not the most – pivotal human rights, and it is one that is at risk, if and when water management is privatized”. He requested a united fight against this global issue.

    “SOSTE to NEPO” is a forum for Water activists from different parts of the world, policy makers, education administrators, advocates and local government representatives. They aim to get together and share their views, examine a wide spectrum of opportunities, identify challenges and make plan for future on water privatization.

    Generally speaking, this incentive reveals the dawn of a new era for water as a common good and as a human right. Water is and should remain a free commodity to be used by each and every one of us.

     

     

  • Remunicipalization: The Strike Back Against Water Privatization

    "Remunicipalization" can be defined as the action of returning a previously privately managed water supply and sanitation service to public hands, thus putting an end to the transfer of management to the private sector on all levels (concessions, lease contracts and PPPs*).  In this way, not only is access secured, but also the possibility for people to have access to water resources in a safe and sustainable way is increased. The current remunicipalization trend has marked a very important point in the water and sanitation management industry: since the beginning of the 21st century there has been a increase of relevant cases of over 200%, reaching 235 municipalities (counting the 2 French cases that started the trend), and serving more than 100 million globally who today have a secure source of water.

              Cases of Remunucipalization of water management systems across the world

                                                                                        Source: “Our Public Water Future”, 2015

    For most municipalities around the world, private water management appeared during the 19th century. It was a “backup solution” for addressing the deficiencies the public water companies in developed and developing countries were facing at the time. One of the clearest examples took place in the U.S. Because of the great investment that came with the maintenance of the infrastructure and the replacement of damaged parts, as well as the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is a federal law passed by the US Congress in 1974 ensuring the quality of American drinking water, the public companies obligated the water companies to comply to increasingly stringent federal requirements for drinking water quality. These and other reasons forced many countries around the world to go through the privatization of their water and sanitation management in order to secure the people's quality of life and the quality of the service they receive.  

    But why remunicipalize? The answer can be summed up in a few words: private profit before common needs.

    Remunicipalization often takes place when local governments terminate private contracts that were not satisfactory or do not renew contracts after once are finished. “In many cases, this is a response to the false promises given by private operators and their failure to put the needs of communities before profit”clarifies Emanuele Lobina, member of the PSIRU and co-author of the book “Our Public Water Future”, a work that describes how the trend for remunicipalization has gone worldwide, and goes into some of the most relevant cases. “The false promises of water privatization in developed and developing countries include: poor performance (n Dar es Salaam, Accra, Maputo), under-investment (Berlin, Buenos Aires), disputes over operational costs and price increases (Almaty, Maputo, Indianapolis), soaring water bills (Berlin, Kuala Lumpur), monitoring difficulties (Atlanta), lack of financial transparency (Grenoble, Paris, Berlin) workforce cuts and poor service quality(Atlanta, Indianapolis)”, Lobina specifies while trying to explain how private companies in charge of water have abandoned their goal and now only work for themselves.

    At the SOSTE to NEPO one-year conference held in Thessaloniki on the 17th & 18th of May this year, organised to commemorate the one-year-anniversary of the referendum against water privatization in the city (view also SOSTE TO NEPO) Satoko Kishimoto, member of the Transnational Institute (TNI), expressed in greater detail how this remunicipalization trend s developing around the world, with France being the most representative of all the countries. “The reason why France is in the lead of this phenomenon is because they have the longest and deepest experience of private services. That is why many local authorities are much more aware of the failures. Promises from private authorities have not been realized”. According to Kishimoto, among the main direct benefits of remunicipalization are: direct savings for most municipalities (e.g. 35 million € saved in Paris during the first year); competitive outsourcing rates achievable by contracting local providers; greater accountability and transparency, and a long-term vision for infrastructure development that reduces future cost burdens associated with health and environmental hazards that come with private management.

    Thus the number of municipalities joining the trend keeps growing, while the percentage of private water companies is on the decline. If these past 15 years have proven anything, it is that remunicipalization is here to stay, and regardless of the actions taken by neo-liberal theorists, international financial institutes and their expectations of superior private sector performance,  they will not avoid having management return to the citizens, and benefit only them.

     

  • [VIDEO] Water remunicipalisation as a global trend

  • Is June the month of the human right to water in Italy?

    Is June the month of the human right to water in Italy?

    The 13th of June commemorates the anniversary of the referendum against water privatization in Italy. Four years back, ninety five percent of the citizens stated that they are in favour of this referendum and still their statements are not yet in force.  

     

      

    The three M’s

    Mercantilisation, a little history on privatization

    In the mid-ninety’s the natural resources that were administered by the governments of each country were globally turning into marketable resources. This was the case for water as well. Gradually, potable water and sanitation services were privatized. In Italy, in particular the "Ley Galli", meaning the Galli Law, of 1994 (adopted to overcome the crisis of the water system for drinking water) opened the door to greater involvement of the private sector in water management.

    In 2002, the government approved an amendment to the law with the intention of privatizing the water sector, and in November 2009, the latter would have declared the full privatization of drinking water through the adoption of so-called "Ronchi decree."

    As a result, several Italian regions have introduced a model of private water management which is known as "public-private partnership and while the promised improvements have not been met, rates have risen and the service has worsened.

    Mobilization, some milestones

    The involvement of the Italian civil society has been and is very strong concerning privatization of water, and it has even reached a peak in March 2006 with the creation of the Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l'Acqua or the Italian Forum of Water Movements (here in after Forum). This forum brings together different social organizations which so far have militated individually on different issues but they all share one goal: to make water a common good.

    During the first meeting of the Forum which was held on 12th and 13th of March (after five meetings during 2005 in different parts of Italy), more than 600 participants, representing social networks, movements, organizations, committees and unions, national and local, agreed to fight together in order to change the existing regulatory framework.

    In 2007 the Forum presented for the first time in parliament, the bill: "Principi per la tutela, IL governo e la gestione pubblica delle acque e disposizioni per la ripubbliciazzazione del servizio idrico". This law, which seeks to safeguard water resources and quality, as well as the re-municipalization of integrated water services, which was meant to be governed through mechanisms of participatory democracy, was literally "kept in the drawer”.

    Moreover, after the above mentioned "Ronchi decree" in 2009, a wide social coalition presented three referendums (supported by 1,402,035 signatures collected in less than 3 months), in July 2010, to repeal the laws that promoted the privatization of water. Two of these referendums were authorized by the Constitutional Court calling a vote.

    On the 12th and 13th of June 2011, ninety five percent of Italian voters (approximately 26 million), strongly expressed their willingness to include water as a common good again. This result only made it possible again to return the management of water services in public hands, and the expulsion of private companies that came to maximize profit out of water.

    Meanwhile, the law project

    Finally, in the course of this June of 2015, the "Comissione Ambiente, Territorio e Lavori Pubblici della Camera dei Deputati del Parlamento" (Commission  Environment , Territory and Public Works of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament) will discuss the drafted law (updated), presented for the second time over a year ago, but this time by the Forum and the "Intergrupo dei Parlamento", which consists of more than 200 parliamentarians from different political groups (Movimento 5 Stelle, SEL, PD, SceltaCivica and GruppoMisto).

    The law project "Principi per la tutela, il governo e la gestione pubblica delle acque e disposizioni per la ripubbliciazzazione del servizio idrico", dictates the principles that should be used, managed and governed the national hydric patrimony and decrees water as a universal human right, and not commodified public common good, and the right to the quality of drinking water and sanitation as a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. 

    Furthermore, there will be a convention on the 10th of June "L'acqua è un diritto umano", whereby several speakers will voice out their opinions on the subject. The venue will be in the Chamber of Deputies and Laura Boldrini, the president of the "Cámara de Diputados" will chair the convention.

    Representatives of the Forum hope that this event will contribute positively to the success of the law. They have great expectations and they are relying on the deputy, Boldrini, who has proven to be sensitive to the issue of public water management so far.

    Until a few decades ago, nobody would have thought that the natural resources essential to life were to be considered goods. "Today the water situation is complicated. In Italy, the government continues to pass laws that are indirectly in favor of privatization. Clearly the economic interest behind the water is very high and therefore there is a strong pressure to continue privatization... obviously private companies are quoted on the stock exchange" (excerpt from interview with Marco Bersani). 

    "After the referendum law enforcement is our goal" 

     

    [1] To note: the abrogative referendum only has the ability to partially or totally cancel a law.

     

    Wednesday June 10, 2015, 9:30 to 12:30 pm.

    Convention "L'acqua e un diritto umano".

    Diputati Chamber, Sala Aldo Moro, Palazzo Montecitorio.

     

    For more information: http://www.acquabenecomune.org/

     

    Versión en español

     

     

     

  • [Video] Convention of 10th of June - Rome, Italy

    "L'acqua è un diritto umano", whereby several speakers will voice out their opinions on the subject. The venue will be in the Chamber of Deputies and Laura Boldrini, the president of the "Cámara de Diputados" will chair the convention. Representatives of the Forum hope that this event will contribute positively to the success of the law. They have great expectations and they are relying on the deputy, Boldrini, who has proven to be sensitive to the issue of public water management so far.

  • L’acqua è un diritto umano. Water is a Human Right

    The  Convention on “ L’acqua è un diritto umano - Water is a Human Right  was held in the Italian Parliament on 10th  June 2015. In this convention Forum Italiano dei Movimenti Per l'Acqua expected for the positive result of the referendum.  Paolo Carsetti represented behalf of the Forum.  He shared that the two achievements in this Convention firstly during the 4th Anniversary of the referendum the  Italian President of the chamber of deputy Laura Boldrini’s precious presence for the convention. She agreed to the theme of the referendum and has said the people made their opinion “public Management of Water the government will respond to it soon. Secondly Ermete Realacci, Parliament President of Environmental  Commission gave assurance  to the forum that the commission will start the discussion about law of Remunicipalization of water and bring decision making  by next week on quick basis. In the upcoming meeting with the Italian Environment Commission, Forum Italiano dei Movementi Per I’Acqua decided to strongly recommend to the government to think and make the decision from the people’s perspective.  The referendum result is very important because one million 400 thousand Italians voted against privatization of water and strongly insisted ”yes” to public water management. Hence the government decision against the public by making privatization again will be like attaining to insult the people and also people’s will should be always respected by a good Government. Lets see the forthcoming result will a good one. With the good result there is a dual benefit , one is   the good path to all those who struggled against Privatization of water and the other is fulfillment of the people’s desire.

  • NO ACEA MEKOROT

    NO ACEA MEKOROT

     

    Mekorot is the national water utility for Israel established in 1936, even before the creation of the state of Israel and it has more than forty wells inside the occupied Palestinians territory. The company extracts water illegally from Palestinian water sources, in turn providing the stolen water to Israeli settlements built illegally in the occupied Palestinian territory, which could not exist without Mekorot.

    On December 2, 2013, during the Italy-Israel summit, ACEA, Italy’s leading water utility, and Israel's national water company Mekorot signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement provides for cooperation through the exchange of experiences and expertise in the water sector. The experience that Mekorot has matured, however, is based on serious violations of international law and human rights.

    As documented in the report by the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq, Mekorot illegally extracts water from Palestinian aquifers, causing Palestinian water sources to dry up. International organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented how Israel exercises total control over Palestinian water resources and how Israeli water policies are a means for expulsion.

    For the reasons above, Vitens, the main water supplier in the Netherlands, on advice from the Dutch Government, recently interrupted a cooperation agreement with Mekorot, citing its commitment to international law as motivation for the decision. On the other hand ACEA states that this is a technological collaboration agreement. Obviously, the reason behind this association is to be part of the business that Mekorot is creating all around the world as the latter is not only appropriating water sources in Palestine but it is also working all over the world in a view of earning profit on water.

     

     

    “No ACEA Mekorot” is a campaign that has been launched in December 2013 when the Rome water authorities signed the above mentioned agreement. A committee was formed to work hands in hands with the movements that are against the privatization of water in Italy. Both the committee and the activists asked ACEA and the city of Rome which owns 51% of shares in the water management to interrupt the agreement with Mekorot.

    On the 29th of May 2014, with 25 meters of signatures, the resounding NO to Italian cooperation with Israeli water company Mekorot was taken to Rome City Hall. The 7114 signatures on the petition against the agreement signed between Rome’s water utility ACEA and Mekorot snaked their way through the public square where a delegation of the Committee against ACEA-Mekorot Cooperation and the Rome Coordination for Public Water delivered a copy to the office of Mayor Ignazio Marino.  The petition calls on the city of Rome, the majority shareholder in ACEA, thus far silent on the issue, to take the necessary steps to block the agreement signed by the two companies. It is good to note that the signatures have reached up to 10,000 till date.

    Currently the activists have a very strong call for ACEA to follow the example of Vitens and immediately terminate the agreement with Mekorot. Secondly, they urge the City of Rome, as the majority shareholder, to take all actions necessary so that ACEA ceases all cooperation with Mekorot. Furthermore, they also request all local authorities whose water service is provided by companies in the ACEA Group to take steps to ensure that ACEA ends the agreement. Last but not least, they request the Italian government to follow the example of the Dutch government and actively discourage commercial ties with those who violate international law.

     

    “Our commitment is not only to public water, but also for water free of human rights abuses.”                               

    Extract from Committee against the ACEA-Mekorot Agreement

     

     

  • Video Interview to: Sthepanie Wesbrook "No ACEA - Mekerot"

    “No ACEA Mekorot” is a campaign that has been launched in December 2013 when the Rome water authorities ACEA, signed an agreement with Mekerot. On May 2014, there were 7114 signatures on the petition against the agreement. Currently we have reached 10.000 signatures

  • Water Management in Greece

    Greece is a land of rich culture and it has a great historical background. Geographically it’s almost completely surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea with water resources that include mainly rivers and springs. Greece has faced major water problems in the recent past, with the main issues being privatization of water companies, island water distribution and agricultural water management. Greece has lot of islands like Milos, Nisyros, Amorgos, Koufonisia, Schinoussa, Folegandros, Tinos, Sikinos, Thirasia, Donoussa, Patmos, Symi, Halki and Palionissos. It takes lot of hard work to provide water to these islands, which is achieved by importing millions of cubic meters of water by ship. Furthermore, water privatization issues in Athens and Thessaloniki have led to recent changes in water management, which in turn has created a lot of confusion in the last two decades.

    According to Greece legislation, water supply and sewage have to be treated as public services. The Water resource management law 1739/1987 and the environmental protection law 1650/1986 state that “water management should be in the hands of the state and water use under public control”. Current Greek legislation on water management is mainly based on the European Union Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, which was framed primarily to protect water resources in the member states. The main objective is to establish a Community framework for the protection of inland surface waters in order to control water pollution, promote sustainable aquatic eco-systems and reduce the effects of floods and droughts.

    The main intention behind the European Union Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC can be clearly seen in the following quote taken straight from the Directive: “Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such”.

     

    According to it, each of the member states should implement each of the following:

    Identification and analysis of waters

    By 2004 at the latest, each Member State shall produce:

    • an analysis of the characteristics of each river basin district;
    • a review of the impact of human activity on water;
    • an economic analysis of water use;
    • a register of areas requiring special protection;
    • a survey of all bodies of water used for abstracting water for human consumption and producing more than 10 m³ per day or serving more than 50 persons.

    This analysis must be revised by 2013 and every six years thereafter.

     

    Management plans and measure programmes.

    In 2009, nine years after the Framework-Directive went into force, management plans were produced for each river basin district, taking into account the results of the analyses and studies carried out. These plans cover the period 2009-2015. They shall be revised in 2015 and then every six years thereafter.

     

    The management plans must be implemented by 2012. They aim to:

    • prevent deterioration, enhance and restore bodies of surface water, achieve good chemical and ecological status of such water by 2015 at the latest and to reduce pollution from discharges and emissions of hazardous substances;
    • protect, enhance and restore the status of all bodies of groundwater, prevent the pollution and deterioration of groundwater, and ensure a balance between groundwater abstraction and replenishment;
    • preserve protected areas.

    Starting in 2010, Member States must ensure that water pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently and that the various economic sectors contribute to the recovery of the costs of water services, including those relating to the environment and resources.

    Member States must introduce arrangements to ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties will be imposed in the event of breaches of the provisions of this Framework Directive.

    However, the European Union Water Framework Directive does not set specific guidelines for European member countries about the administrational framework of water resources management, due to the differences between governmental schemes of the member countries. The implementation of the European Union Water Framework Directive in Greece is not showing great progress, especially when time restrictions and schedule are taken into consideration; the ‘embodiment’ of the European Union Water Framework Directive in water policy of Greece came after a long delay with Law 3199/2003.

     

    GREEK LEGISLATION AND DIRECTIVE 2000/60/EC

    Directive 2000/60/EC was transposed into Greek legislation through the Framework Law 3199/2003, in combination with the Presidential Decree 51/2007. These allow for full harmonization with Directive 2000/60/EC, and all provisions are fully and accurately transposed into national law.

    Due to the financial crisis, the Greek government instituted a new regional administration scheme with Law 3852/2010, known as “Kallikrates Law”, a reform of local and regional public administration.  This process of public sector reform aimed to reduce local administration entities and generate fiscal savings in order to create the benefits of economies of scale. Thus, the Kallikrates reform created larger and stronger elected municipalities through mergers that ultimately amounted to one third of their previous number. They accordingly acquired additional responsibilities. Water policy implicates several actors and implies shared responsibilities, among them a multi-level governance approach, which transfers the sharing of policy making and responsibility to multiple government levels (local, regional, provincial/state, national, and international), where an inter-sectoral dialogue and coordination has to take place.

    Today, the distribution of power among administrative structures concerning water protection and water resources management is divided into several levels (ministry, decentralized administration, regional administration, municipal administration, and others). However, the lack of cooperation and bureaucratic functions tend to impose barriers in water planning. Water governance should not be restricted to government action taken by public authorities only; it should include the stake holders (local villages leaders, NGO, Water Activist and scientists) --- any action is more effective if it is collective.

    To conclude, the current strive for decentralization is ultimately imposed by the financial crisis and insecurity, rather than by the existence of any environmental and resource protection values. Therefore, the prospects of water governance in Greece are not very promising. On the whole, the aim of both Greek legislation and the European Union Water Framework Directive is to protect the water resources, but Greece today is facing an unprecedented financial crisis which affects governance across the board.

  • Maria Kadoglou and gold mining in Chalkidiki

    Maria Kadoglou, one of the main activists against the expansion of the mining activities in Chalkidiki - Greece,  talks about the local situation regarding the open pit mining activities planned by El Dorado Gold, and what the consequences of these extraction activities might represent for the locals in the area.

  • El Dorado Gold, Chalkidiki and the struggle for human rights

    Minery in Greece is as remote as its history; the data for mining activities go as far as 1000 B.C. continuing through time until becoming the second ranked producer of perlite after the United States in 2012. 

    The Kassandra Area has been a vast source of silver and gold since the Ancient times of Greece, source that has helped remarkable historical characters as Philip II and Alexander the Great during their conquests, with a recorded data of over 1 million tons of ore extracted from the Stratoni mine in the area during the Roman, Byzantine and Turkish periods, the nature of the activity has moved from bulk mining methods until more sophisticated selective cut & fill methods used nowadays.

    By 2010 the Stratoni reserves of ore were as is specified in the table below:

    Amount

    of mineral

    '000t1

    Gold (Ag)

    gram/ton

    Siver (Ag)

    Moz2

    Lead (Pb)

    '000t1

    Zinc (Zn)

    '000t1

    Proven 1,657 174 9.3 101 141
    Probable 103 225 0.7 9 10
    Total 1,706 177 10.0 100 150

     1 Thousands of tons ; 2 Million of ounces

    Mineral Resources in the Stratoni Mine in 2010                                                    (Source: European Golfield Limited)

     

    As shown, the area is specifically rich in silver and zinc, that have been exploited regularly during the last centuries, an activity that is very representative of the history of the area, and that also has had a not complete, but major consideration of the people in the villages around the Kassandra area and the Chalkidiki peninsula. 

    Then what is reason for people to stand against minery in the area these past years? Well, the several justifications for people to stand in the opposition lay in two single motivations: natural resources and human rights.

    To be clearer in this aspect we need to go back a few years. By the end of 2003, the assets of the Kassandra mines, belonging to TVX Hellas S.A. were transferred to the Greek state for 11 million euros. Assets that the same day, were sold to the company Hellas Gold S.A. without any prior economic assessment, without any kind of open competition and most important, for the same price. This meant that 317 km2 of land including 310 homes and 11000 m2 of urban land among many other properties passed to hands to the Canadian company El Dorado Gold S.A., an international gold producer that nowadays owes 95% of Hellas Gold S.A., giving them full possession of the mining concessions and by this, exempting the company from any transfer of taxes and relieving the gold mining company from any financial obligations concerning environmental damage resulting from previous operation of mines.

    The problem regarding mining activities in the area lies in the new expansion plans of El Dorado Gold S.A. that include among others an 8.8 km underground tunnel in Olimpias for transportation of ore, exploring activities of another 14 potential sites and a new open pit and underground mine in Skouries.

     Total area affected by mining activities                  (Source: Fool's Gold, 2015)

    Konstantinos Katsfarelis, Professor of the Civil Engineering department of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, and also coordinator of the Environmental Council of the same establishment, warns that the effects in the fragile structure of the environment in the area will be catastrophic: “the carrying capacity of the environment will be exceeded by far, and the problem is that they are not going to stop there”. Katsfarelis among other scientists from the Aristotle University were in charge of the research of the environmental effects that the activities could have in the area, and came to disagree completely with the results that were obtained in the Environmental Impacts Assessment, given by El Dorado. On this matter, it has been proven that, the expansion of the activities and the projection for exploration will affect 1/11 of the Chalkidiki peninsula, and that the enormous effects on fishery, tourism and specially agriculture (being this the main activity of the area), will significantly lower the activities and local income not related with minery.

    Regarding water, the situation could not get any worse. The new projection for the activities include the use of an amount of water greater than the one that the local ecosystem can take. The extraction activities nowadays include gold, among other minerals, gold that with concentrations as low as 0.5  grams per ton of soils removed, this concentrations can be considered of such insignificance that  even European Goldfield Limited, a consulting company in minery topics, on its technical report on 2010 on the reserves in the Stratoni project clasified the gold concentrations in the yield as "not considered to be of any economic value”. Also the current activities in the area include an excavation of 700 m below the sea level, and the use of approximately 10 million m3 of water (between underground and surface water sources)that will be polluted at all in despite of what the Environmental Impact Assessment provided by El Dorado states. It is necessary  to take in account as well, that the whole activity projected, will mean the smashing of tons rocks in both activities (underground and open pit mining), and an estimated production of highly polluted dust of approximately 2.2 tons per hour, this together with highly polluted waste water from the processes of gold extraction (the same that use perjudicial chemicals as cyanide) represent a threat and a constant risk not only for agriculture activities, but also for fishery in the area, two of the main economical incomes not related to minery.

     On the left: Prof. Kostantinos Katsfarelis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. On the right: Maria Kadoglou, local activist from Chalkidiki

    The international research group for the campaign Rights4Water in Greece, on their visit to the Chalkidiki area, also had the opportunity to talk to Maria Kadoglou, a local activist that has been involved in the struggle against the expansion of the mining activities since the beginning. Kadoglou talks about the main reasons why people don’t support the new mining expansion, and also how the company has been taking advantage of the financial situation in the country to continue their extraction activities, even though there are no financial advantages for the Greek state. “The financial crisis that Greece is going through is their best ally…the worst the financial situation in Greece, the better for the mining company”. Like this she also explains how El Dorado created a complex network of subsides, and based on an inconsistent Greek legislation, has been able to avoid tax payment to the local state, from a concession that is worth approximately 13 billion euros, being the company the only beneficiary. At the same time that interferes with local activities and causes sorts of rivalries between villages. (To know more about Maria Kadoglou's intervention, please visit Maria Kadoglou and gold mining in Chalkidiki)

    After several analyses, Katsfarelis and Kadoglou come to the same solution, stop the mining expansion. They both state that the solution for this struggle is not to "kick out" the mining company, but to deal with the current situation in the area and this lies on hands of the Greek government, and its availability to act towards all the series of violations made by El Dorado Gold S.A.. The breach of contracts and the not well fulfilled environmental requests by the company, are the main weapons to fight in courts. A fair position towards the people is another goal to achieve, create a development plan that help people to find another economic activities apart from those connected to El Dorado, in an area with a well known minery background but also with a rich agricultural and touristic tradition and potential that need to be exploited, and that will ensure the quality of life of its population once the extraction of the resources come to an end.

  • Giorgos Archontopoulos_SOSte TO NEPO

    The President of Worker’s Union of EYATH explains the creation of the SOSte TO NEPO movement in response to the attempts of water privatization.

  • Water Issues in Aegina - Greece

    The journalist Maria Triantopoulou talks about the water issues that Aegina Island is facing.

  • Italian Water Movement Celebrated the 4th Anniversary of the Human Right to Water

     

    Italian Water Movement Celebrated the 4th Anniversary of the Human Right to Water

    2011 has been an important year for public water in Italy, in which the Italian citizens voiced out that water is a common good and therefore it should not  be privatised. The hard work of Italian Forum of Water Movement increased citizen participation in the issues of water management and  to take a serious  step toward re-municipalisation – to bring back water under public control.

    On 13th day of June 2015  to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the referendum - water is a human right , the Italian Forum of Water Movement gathered at Piazza dei Sanniti , San Lorenzo neighbourhood, Rome.

    The  anniversary had several speakers namely Simona Savini from the Coordinamento Romano Acqua Pubblica (CRAP), Oscar Olivera,a social leader from the water war  from  Cochabamba,Bolivia, DevikaThilak from  India working for the Grassroot Youth Democracy Project, and Claudia Albanesi from SCI Italy (North –South Programme Co-ordinator).

    Speaking on the occasion Oscar Olivera related the history of water privatization in Bolivia, which seeks to encourage people to continue to fight for the future generations.

     In Bolivia this year too recalls the 15thyear water war where people were organized and managed to de-privatize water. Oscar Olivera made an exchange of Bolivian water to the water of Italy as a sign of brotherhood, meaning that, water is life, transparent and gives us joy. He said that water is a common good and does not depend on one person but depends on collective action. The power of the people’s voice lies in their organization.

     

     Then we had the participation of Claudia Albanesi at this event, she has shared her experience in Palestine and she talked about water management and its problems.

     She spoked about the administration and water supply in the state of Israel and about MEKOROT that is the public enterprise that supply 90% of the water in Israel. Mekorot provides the infrastructure for water supply and sanitation, in Nagab, Israel refuses to recognize 45 Bedouin villages where 160,000 Palestinians live and construction of water networks is prohibited for villages.

     Furthermore, we had the presence of DevikaThilak, who presented about Indian context on human right to water and sanitation. In her presentation she covered the topics like Health components, Water distribution, occurrence of water contamination, Main purposes of water used in India like Agriculture 69%, Industrial 23% and domestic 8 %. She also shared how the mismanagement of water resources brings too many deaths due to water related diseases mainly regarding to water quality and the prevention method.

     Concluded the initiative Simona Savini, recounting the last 4 years in the defense of the referendum in Italy but, above all, the new privatization process wanted by the Renzi Government, in the last two years.

    An address involving Italy and the City of Rome and against which the water movement is mobilizing, organizing and promoting initiatives in the streets and a resolution of the citizens to remunipalize water company in the city.

    The battle of Italian Forum of Water Movements  is  for democracy with the aim to defend water as a common good and as a fundamental human right will definitely bring re-municipalisation of water in Italy.

    We would like to wish Italian water movement forum the best of luck for their struggle until succeed.

  • Privatisation and Remunicipalisation of water services In the European context

     

     

    Privatisation and Remunicipalisation of water services In the European context

    Nowadays privatisation has become increasingly popular. Privatisation occurs when the control of public management is transferred to a private operator. In the water sector, there are different forms of privatisation and these different forms of privatization include the sale of the assets and the infrastructure to private companies. However, privatization is not only limited to the above definition but it also includes the establishment of public private partnerships (PPP) and contracts.

     

     

    On the other hand, remunicipalisation is the return of water into public hands. There are two dimensions of water remunicipalisation. The first one is the transfer of ownership rights from the private sector to the public sector and the second one can be seen from social grassroots mobilization demanding an end to privatization. Remunicipalisation is a trend which has emerged from the year 2000 till 2015. According to a research made by the Public Service International Research Unit (PSIRU), remunicipalisation has grown from 2 cases in 2000 to a total of 235 cases in 2015.

    In Europe, Paris, Berlin and another capital city like Budapest and Atlantic in the United States can be cited as examples of the cases mentioned above. On the other side, for the middle and low income countries, it is good to note that, cities that used to be flagships of privatization to other developing countries have failed and they are now remunicipalised. Bueno Aires, Jakarta or Dar-E-Salaam are very good example of these cases. Moreover, this clearly demonstrates the unsustainability of water privatisation.

    Consequently, ABC Napoli in Italy is a clear illustration of a successful remunicipalisation process. One year after the national referendum in 2011, the municipality of Naples, under the proposal of the Municipal Department for commons, decided to create a new company for water services that was completely in public hands. This was called ABC (Acqua Bene Comune) Napoli. This very decision recognised water as a common good and was considered to be a historic change in the framework of water supply in Italy.

    Furthermore, there is also another good example of Cambodia. The public water operator in Prompane in Cambodia managed to transform itself from a poor performer public operator until 1993 to one of the most efficient public operator in the world. This is very important because it shows that even poor performers can be reformed. Prompane has been impressive; it has increased service coverage from 20% in 1999 to 90% after 14 years and this is a testament for what Public Public Partnership (PPP) and public ownership can do. PPP were exchanging their services without privatising and without profit objective and this has been a very powerful tool for developing efficient and effective services in Prompane.

    Moreover, according to a research made, it has been proved that most of the cases of water remunicipalisation have happened in the global North. In general, the local and national government of low or middle income countries are more exposed to the pressure of the multinationals and they have to keep privatization irrespective of the social cost. This pressure can be in the form of threat of suing the government if it decides to put an end to privatization; it can be sued for commercial damages.

    To conclude, it can be said that lessons can be drawn out coming from  all the concrete international experiences with all these types of reforms in the global north and global South, developed, developing and transition countries. The outcomes of reforms of public services around the world can be said to be a positive one.