Every three years since 1997, the World Water Council (WWC), a Marseilles-based policy think tank run by the World Bank, development aid agencies like the United Nations, the major water corporations such as Vivendi and Suez, water ministries of a number of Northern countries, and water experts and professionals, hosts the World Water Forum (WWF). The forum is a formal gathering of governments, international water experts, development aid institutions, water corporations and other agencies to discuss the fate of the world’s water, likening itself to a United Nations conference. Its sixth edition will be held in the birthplace and heartland of “privatization”— Marseilles, France from March 12-17, 2012.

Civil society and social movement resistance to the WWF have been growing. Thousands of ‘water warriors’, including rural and urban communities, students, trade unions, social movements, indigenous peoples, women groups, and NGOs, from various parts of the world gathered in the alternative WWFs to take part in mobilizations to defend the world’s water. In Marseilles, an alternative world water forum called Forum Alternatif Mondial de l’Eau (FAME) will be held parallel to the official one. This is a space and platform to highlight struggles against corporate control of their water, for activists and movements to share their struggles, learn from each other, strategize together, and collectively build alternatives.

Focus on the Global South will join thousands of “water warriors” at this triennial event. Focus, together with the Reclaiming Public Water, Municipal Services Project, La Via Campesina, the Food and Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,  Council of Canadians, and other groups will organize a series of workshops around alternatives to privatization, rural water, the financialization of nature, climate change, and Rio+20. For more information about the FAME program, visit www.fame2012.org/en/.


Theme: ‘Public Community Water Management and Partnerships’ (Anchored by Reclaiming Public Water)

As the failure of privatisation has become evident, the time has come to refocus the water debate on how to improve and expand public water delivery around the world. The workshops under this theme will focus on how to develop democratic, participatory, social and environmentally sustainable public models to ensure universal access to water and sanitation. ‘Public’ does not only mean public authorities and public water operators. Where public authorities fail to serve communities, they often organise themselves to build and manage their own people-centred water systems. Solidarity-based partnerships among public operators as well as with communities are increasingly becoming popular. Why is this so? How can we scale up such partnerships? How can we finance public water for all? These workshops will discuss ways to build stronger alliances among civil society groups, trade unions, communities and public water operators in order to advocate for public and community control over our water systems.

Public-public partnerships: strengthening public water and implementing the human right to water

Workshop 1. Friday March 16, 10:00 – 12:30, Venue: Cabaret, Dock des Suds, Marseilles, France

This workshop provides an opportunity to share diverse experiences with not-for-profit water partnerships, which have achieved very different results compared to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and privatization. These partnerships are described as public-public partnerships, public-community partnerships and water operators partnerships (WOPs), but are all not-for-profit and based on solidarity. Highlighting the role of communities, trade unions and public operators, this workshop aims to exchange lessons and challenges in such partnerships.

Public water models: ensuring universal access, strengthening and building democratic public water systems.

Workshop 2. Friday March 16, 13:00 – 18:00, Venue: Cabaret, Dock des Suds, Marseilles, France

This workshop will discuss why and how public water models ensure universal access, as well as equitable and environmentally-sound water provision. Public water operator(s), citizen associations, and trade unions will present how democratic, social, and participatory models can be developed from a diversity of perspective and under diverse conditions. To deepen discussions, we will focus on: 1.How to challenge concrete threats undermining public water, and 2.Financing of public water. 

Municipal Services Project Workshop

Workshop, Thursday March 15, 10:00 – 18:00, Venue: Cab. Rouge 1, Dock des Suds, Marseilles, France

Session I: Alternatives to Privatization: Public Options for Water, Health and Electricity in the Global South

This workshop presents the findings of our new book on ‘alternatives to privatization’. It looks at water, health care and electricity in over 40 countries in the global South and celebrates the women and men who are reinventing the meaning of ‘public’. We discuss the diversity of public models that exist, how we evaluate their ‘success’ and how they might be reproduced elsewhere.

Speakers: David McDonald, Municipal Services Project, Canada; Marcela Olivera, Red VIDA, Bolivia; Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South, Philippines; Yoswa Dambisya, University of Limpopo, South Africa, and Daniel Chavez, Transnational Institute, Netherlands

Session II: Research and Activism: Together in Defense of Public Services

This participatory workshop explores how researchers and activists can join forces in the fight against privatization and the search for improved public services. Examining this relationship is critical to understanding where the movement for public services is going and how research can reinforce action.

Speakers: Greg Ruiters, Municipal Services Project, South Africa; Amit Sengupta, People’s Health Movement, India; Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, Canada; Carlos Crespo, Universidad Mayor San Simón, Bolivia; and Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa, Canada

Session III: Remunicipalisation: Putting Water Back in Public Hands

Remunicipalisation is a growing trend in the water sector. Defined as the transfer of water services from private companies to municipal authorities, remunicipalisation shows that public can outperform private worldwide. This workshop reviews five recent case studies from Argentina, Canada, France, Malaysia and Tanzania, looking at the origin of the process, the transition period, and the public phase. It offers insights into campaign strategies and lessons learned.

Speakers: Martin Pigeon, Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium; David McDonald, Municipal Services Project, Canada; Satoko Kishimoto Transnational Institute, Netherlands; Carles Escolano, ATTAC, Spain; and Nila Ardhianie, Amrta Institute, Indonesia

Theme: Climate Change and Financialization of Nature (Anchored by Focus on the Global South and ATTAC-France)

Common goods against the commodification of life and of the planet, strategies and mobilizations of social and environmental movements towards Rio+20 and beyond?

Assembly, Friday, March 16, 13:00-15:30, Venue: Docks B, Dock des Suds, Marseilles, France

This participatory assembly will gather networks, organizations, activists and individuals to discuss strategies and define a common agenda towards Rio+20 and beyond.

Organizations: Arci, Food and Water Watch, Ecologistas en Accion, Ibon, Focus on the Global South, La Via Campesina, Fair, IATP, Council of Canadians, Stop Corporate Abuse, Ritimo, Amis dela Terre, Transform, Aitec, ATTAC-France 

Water, Land and Resources: The Search for Just Solutions at Rio+20 and Beyond

Workshop Friday, March 16, 15:30-18:00, Venue: Cab. Rouge 3¸ Dock des Suds, Marseilles, France

This workshop will be a space for activists and practitioners working on food, land, water and climate issues to share issues, strategies and struggles in the hope to find common grounds and create joint initiatives and collaboration. The workshop will combine information sharing and strategizing. In particular, the session will understand and unpack nature and the links of the multiple crises, identify local challenges and opportunities that communities face and understand what it means for international advocacy, and discuss progressive solutions and alternatives including local water adaptation efforts and agroecological techniques, in the context of Rio+20 and financialization of resources.

Speakers: Wenonah Hauter, Food and Water Watch, USA; Nicola Bullard, Focus on the Global South, Thailand; Mary Galvin, Umphilo waManzi, South Africa; Sheelu Francis, Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, India; Mae Buenaventura, Jubilee South-APMDD, Philippines; La Via Campesina

Financialization of Nature and Rio+20

Plenary Session, Friday, March 16, 18:30-21:00

The plenary session will feature activists and personalities to discuss the issues, challenges, linkages, and strategies around the issues of financialization of nature, Rio+20 process, and the green economy.