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Trade Unions at the World Water Forum, Marseille
(19 March 2012) In a well attended side event that was co-hosted by EPSU, CUPE and Unison, the public sector and civil society view on the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation came in focus.
The event was opened by Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians) who gave an overview how people all over the world have struggled to get the right to water recognized and now have to continue their struggles to get this right implemented. Sascha Gabizon (Women in Europe for a Common Future) explained how important this right is to women and how shocking their situation in many countries still is. With the majority of water and sanitation services provided publically, it is public sector workers around the globe who have developed the unprecedented experience and expertise providing these services. Their commitment to the job was highlighted by Ismael Cortazzo from FFOSE Uruguay.
It is governments around the world who are ultimately responsible to ensure citizens have access to safe, clean water services and have the obligation to meet people’s most essential needs and to implement the human right to water and sanitation. Anne le Strat gave a presentation how Eau de Paris and the Paris municipality put the right to water for all people into practice by having a social tariff system and a policy to make sure that also the homeless are provided with water and sanitation services. David Hall made clear that the human right to water means that water and sanitation are a right for people, not for corporations. He showed that the European track to create a market for water and sanitation services is a completely wrong instrument to implement the human right to water, as it promotes corporate rights and interests instead of human rights.
Jerry van den Berge (EPSU) revealed the plan for a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) for the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation. The ECI is a new instrument for participatory democracy, whereby citizens can put an issue on the agenda of the European Commission by collecting one million statements of support from at least seven EU Member States. EPSU will launch such an initiative in April 2012.
On the picture (left to right):
Anne le Strat – Eau de Paris
Steve Bloomfield – Unison
Maude Barlow – Council of Canadians
Sascha Gabizon – Women in Europe for a Common Future
Jerry van den Berge – European Federation of Public Service Unions
David Hall – Greenwich University