Veolia, Suez, Aqualia and Aguas de Valencia embroiled in several corruption cases in Europe

Veolia, Suez, Aqualia and Aguas de Valencia were selected by the Toulouse metropolitan government in October 2017 to present their bids for two concession contracts; one for the production and distribution of drinking water and the other for sanitation.

However, these four private companies are embroiled in several corruption cases for the award of public and concessions contracts elsewhere in Europe.

Note: On 29 May 2018, the tender commission [this commission of several elected representatives of the metropolis, examines and compares the bids and then chooses the one that seems the best] opened the envelopes containing the bids of the candidates. Aqualia and Aguas de Valencia not having sent their bids before this deadline can no longer get one of the two concession contracts.

Click here to read the entire article.

World Water Day: Brazilian and global water justice activists march to demand an end to the privatization of water

Brasilia – The Fórum Alternativo Mundial da Água (FAMA) or Alternative World Water Forum concluded with a march today that saw 5-7,000 people from around Brasil and around the World take to the streets of Brasilia demanding an end to the privatization and commodification of water.
From March 17-22, the FAMA hosted meetings, workshops and panel discussions involving 7,000 water justice activists. The FAMA is held in opposition to the corporate-led World Water Forum, which is taking place in Brasilia this year. Brazilians are challenging the Temer government’s complicity with big corporations to commodify and privatize water supplies and services in the country. Earlier this year, the Temer government

Earlier today, 400 Via Campesina activists occupied a Coca Cola plant in Brasilia and spray painted the message “Hands off our water, Coca Cola”. On March 20, 600 rural women took over a Nestlé plant in Minas Gerais demanding that the company halt water takings in the region and that the Temer government cease talks with Nestlé and Coca Cola to privatize the Guarani aquifer.

See video below for futher details. Follow #FAMA2018 on twitter.

Thirsting for justice: new report reveals depth of discrimination faced by Europe’s Roma in accessing water

The original article was published by Right to Water.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) released its report – Thirsting for Justice: Europe’s Roma Denied Access to Clean Water & Sanitation, highlighting the shocking disparities between Roma and non-Roma in their access to water.

The report summarises research carried out by the ERRC, between 2014 – 2016, covering 93 Romani neighbourhoods and settlements in Albania, France, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Slovakia.

The human rights to water and sanitation are recognised by the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and require that States explicitly focus on the most disadvantaged and marginalized. However, our research reveals that large segments of Europe’s Roma continue to be denied or disadvantaged in their access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Even in states and regions where safe water supply and sanitation services were available to almost every non Roma household, we found that Roma populations are still often systemically discriminated against in their access to these essential services. In the sites we investigated, Roma living in legal settlements or neighbourhoods were no less likely to be deprived of water than those in unofficial sites.

Click here to access the report by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).

Brazilian utility to put wastewater PPP out to tender

The original article was published by BNamericas.

The government of Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil, through its water utility Sanesul, is planning to launch a tender in the fourth quarter for a sub-concession.

The objective of the 30-year public-private partnership (PPP) is to achieve universal sewage collection and treatment coverage in the 68 cities and towns the utility operates in. Investment from both the public and private sector should total 3.9bn reais over the period.

Currently, technical and economic feasibility studies regarding upcoming concession model options are being reviewed by the state to verify that all prerequisites were met by the two companies which expressed interest in the project. The companies are local engineering firms Aegea Saneamento e Participações and Andrade Gutierrez Concessões.

Click here to read the original article.

Maryland Bans Fracking in Huge Win for People Power

The original article was published by Food and Water Watch.

Signing the Maryland Fracking Ban

It’s official: today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a statewide ban on fracking. The bill was passed with bipartisan support in the state legislature, and Maryland is now the third state to ban fracking. This historic achievement is a true testament to the power of grassroots organizing, and believing that even when the odds are stacked against us, we can do extraordinary things. This victory belongs to the thousands of Marylanders who have worked for years to keep fracking out of the state.

Click here to read the entire article.

Protecting New York’s Water from Trump-Style Privatization

The original article was published by Food and Water Watch.

While Trump has talked about a big infrastructure plan, New York lawmakers have a chance to actually do something to protect clean water without enriching private interests.

Privatization is a core element Trump’s loudly-touted “infrastructure plan,” which has yet to see the light of day. But states can make progress on their own in upgrading infrastructure. There’s a refreshing bipartisan discussion here in New York state over investing in our public water systems. With the April deadline approaching for finalizing the state budget, we must think big. A real commitment is needed – at least $800 million a year every year – to begin the process of rebuilding New York’s crumbling water infrastructure.

Click here to read the original article.

La catástrofe de las asociaciones público-privadas (APPs) británicas

El informe fue publicado por Jubilee Debt Campaign.

Lecciones de finanzas privadas para el resto del mundo.

El Reino Unido fue unos de los primeros países a desarrollar los APPs al principio de los años noventa. Este programa de APPs posteriormente se ha ampliado en todos los sectores des gasto público.

El informe expone los problemas y los riesgos más importantes que el Reino Unido ha encontrado a través  de su experimentación con los APPs.

Pulse aquí para leer el informe.

Reversing The Tide: Spain Moves Into Water Remunicipalization

Just one year ago we were arguing about how Spain was still resisting the last wave of water privatization, as a result of austerity policies and debt, seasoned with corruption scandals.

But as a result of the local and regional elections a year ago, the tide changed. As a reaction to the long-term crisis, attacks to public services and corruption in traditional parties, many citizen movements organized to run for the elections, with great success in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Ferrol, Santiago, Cádiz, Coruña and Valencia, among others.

One of the key achievements of those movements was to introduce in the public sphere the debate on how to manage public services, like water. By the end of 2015, 57 percent of the population in Spain received their tap water from a private operator. One of the most worrying consequences is that more than 500,000 families receive water cut off warnings every year, according to data from the Spanish public water companies association.

Valladolid, a city of around 300,000 inhabitants and capital of the northwestern region of Castilla y León, took the first big move a few weeks ago. The local government announced that the city would recover public control of water management, 20 years after the privatization of Aguas de Valladolid, when the contract expires in July 2017. Aguas de Valladolid is now part of the AGBAR-Suez group.

Read more on the blog of Food & Water Europe

Cierra la boca: el agua de Río está contaminada

Expertos brasileños en salud aconsejan a los participantes en los Juegos que entren en contacto con el mar que eviten como sea tragar agua de la Bahía de Guanabara, sede de la vela, el wind-surf y la natación en aguas abiertas.

Esta recomendación llega porque los científicos han encontrado un rotavirus que puede ocasionar diarreas y vómitos en los deportistas que ingieran aunque sea en pequeñas dosis el agua contaminada donde se van a disputar las pruebas naúticas de la cita olímpica.

«Los atletas extranjeros van a nadar literalmente en basura humana y corren riesgo de intoxicarse por los microorganismos que hay en el agua», ha dicho el doctor Daniel Becker en declaraciones que recoge el ‘New York Times’.

Más información…

Subsidios perversos, promesas y exoneraciones

El analista e investigador en temas ambientales Eduardo Gudynas, consideró en Rompkbzas que no es correcto decir que una planta de celulosa no contamina. Señaló que “lo que sucede es que contamina pero por debajo de los estándares que el país marca o que la sociedad acepta, porque hay una idea de que la contaminación es aceptable de acuerdo al país y la necesidad económica”.

Gudynas explicó que la producción de papel está creciendo a nivel global. “En Norteamérica, se consumen 230 kilos de papel per cápita de manera anual. En Europa, el consumo asciende a 180 kilos. El tercer continente con más consumo es América Latina con 43 kilos y luego le sigue Asia. Sin embargo, el comercio global de pulpa de papel es casi todo orientado a China”, indicó el experto.

Asimismo, el porcentaje de papel reciclado va lentamente en aumento. “Un 53% del papel se recicla en el mercado global. Y ese número quiere aumentarse, pero son decisiones de demanda del mercado internacional, de disponibilidad de inversiones. Y eso tiene impacto en Uruguay, porque está vinculado al sector forestal y en nuestro país hay más de un millón de hectáreas forestadas”.

El analista en temas de ambiente y desarrollo aseguró que en el país hay suelos de prioridad forestal. “Fueron determinados así por la baja fertilidad para actividades agríolas. Pero estos suelos, serranías y bañados, son los que tienen mayor riqueza ecológica”, explicó. “Uruguay solo tiene el 1% de áreas protegidas; el más bajo de Latinoamérica y de los más bajos del mundo”, agregó.

En cuanto al desempeño de las plantas de celulosa ya existentes, Gudynas dijo que “ambas tienen un buen mecanismo de información pública. Hay comisiones para eso. Tanto la Dinama como las propias empresas reportan regularmente sobre qué han hecho”. Ante esto, señaló que “no está claro cuál es la información oculta que reclaman desde Argentina”.

El experto indicó que no existe diferencia si la planta se ubica en Cerro Largo, Tacuarembó o Durazno. “Uruguay tenía un mecanismo para evaluar los efectos ambientales regionales. El impacto es regional. Ese mecanismo fue derogado en la última rendición de cuentas. Antes estas se hacían anualmente, ahora pasaron a ser cada tres años”.

Por otra parte, Gudynas advirtió sobre los “subsidios perversos” que ofrecen los gobiernos para atraer las inversiones, como las “obras de infraestructura que se prometen a la nueva planta o las exoneraciones de contribución inmobiliaria que tiene UPM en Río Negro dada por la intendencia”. Países extractivistas
“Venezuela, Ecuador y Bolivia tienen más del 80% de exportaciones en recursos naturales. Pero son el mismo producto. Son los tres países más extractivistas del continente”, apuntó el experto.

Gudynas habló sobre lo que se denomina “enfermedad holandesa”. “En Lationamérica es ‘enfermedad chola’ (nombre puesto en Perú). Importo productos chinos, deprimiendo la industria nacional, más debilito la economía para las crisis, y por eso quiero vender proyectos de recursos naturales”, explicó.

Cuando se habla de ejemplos en mantenimiento del medio ambiente y economía, se ponen como ejemplos Noruega y Finlandia. “Finlandia está en el lugar 7 del indicador global de complejidad económica. Japón es el primero. Uruguay está en el 53, porque nos basamos en exportación de productos ganaderos y soja. El patrón de exportación de Finlandia es más dividido. El mayor porcentaje de exportaciones de Finlandia es la maquinaria, con el 13%, volviendo más diversa su economía”.

“En las comparaciones con Finlandia hay que tener cuidado, porque la institucionalidad ambiental es distinta, la base de protección de naturaleza es muy distinta a la de nuestro país. La mirada ecológica tiene un gran componente económico”, indicó.

“Lo más paradojal de la situación de Uruguay es que, en vez de estar diversificando nuestra economía, nos estamos simplificando: nuestra economía se está poniendo al lugar de Perú o Bolivia. En estos dos países hay situaciones similares a las de nuestro país”, cerró el investigador.

Más información…

OceanaGold told to leave El Salvador and the Philippines at meeting in Toronto

Activists gathered outside of OceanaGold’s shareholder meeting in downtown Toronto today at a rally organized by the Council of Canadians, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, MiningWatch Canada, and the United Church of  Canada. The Canadian mining company has faced controversy for its decision to sue El Salvador for US$250 million at a World Bank tribunal when the company failed to obtain a mining permit for which it never met regulatory requirements. As a result, over the past seven years, the tiny financially-strapped nation has been forced to divert over $12 million dollars from economic development, job creation and violence prevention, merely to pay to defend itself.

Failing to respect the clear ‘no’ to metal mining, OceanaGold is bullying El Salvador with its suit while trying to get its foot in the door through the El Dorado Foundation. OceanaGold created this company-sponsored foundation at the local level in an attempt to rebrand the proposed mine. This is deceitful, disrespectful and dangerous.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, OceanaGold’s large-scale gold mining operations in the village of Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya province have also been the source of years of protest. Filipino organizations have been denouncing the illegal demolition of homes in 2008 to make way for the company’s tailings pond and contamination of the Didipio River and adjacent water bodies. Loss of water supplies, displacement and respiratory illness are among further complaints.

Council of Canadians organizer Rachel Small went inside the shareholder meeting and made the following statement to the shareholders, management, and executive team present.

«My name is Rachel Small and I work with the Council of Canadians.

In 2013 Oceana took on an expensive drawn-out legal battle suing El Salvador for $250 million USD over a mine permit that it has never met the regulatory requirements to obtain.

El Salvadorans meanwhile have been very clear that they do not want mining to proceed in their densely populated and already water-stressed country. 98% of the country’s freshwater supplies are heavily polluted. The proposed Oceana Gold mine would threaten the watershed that provides drinking water for two thirds of the population. An overwhelming majority of Salvadorans want to see a permanent ban on metal mining – over 80% of the population as confirmed by a 2015 national poll.

Oceana Gold’s lawsuit is an effort to bully the Salvadoran people who are setting their own economic and environmental agenda free from destructive metal mining projects. Many are also looking to the company’s take on corporate philanthropy through its El Dorado Foundation in El Salvador as a further attempt to increase social divisions and contribute to further violence against local community activists. Between 2009 and 2011, four environmental activists were murdered in Cabañas, El Salvador. More recently, several local organizations have received threats. These crimes have never been fully investigated.

A decision in this case will be announced shortly. El Salvador, a small impoverished Central American country of 6 million inhabitants, has already spent over 12 million USD in legal fees– an amount that could go a long way towards providing basic services to reduce poverty. For example, that amount could provide two years of adult literacy classes for 140,000 people. 250 million would have devastating effects on the economy.

Many in El Salvador are looking at the Philippines for further evidence of why the proposed mine will not benefit their country. Local organizations in Nueva Vizcaya, where OceanaGold’s Didipio mine is located, are calling for OceanaGold’s operations to stop and for their lands to be rehabilitated, given impacts on water supplies and farmlands. The Incoming Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, Carlos M. Padilla, also issued an open letter reiterating the call for OceanaGold to pull out, emphasizing how the costs of the company’s open-pit mine far outweigh scarce benefits. In 2012 two environmental activists who opposed the mining project, Cheryl Ananayo and Randy Nabayay, were assassinated.

Salvadorans are preventing their communities from experiencing the kind of environmental devastation and displacement faced by communities impacted by the Didipio mine in the Philippines.

OceanaGold has repeatedly claimed that its mining project will be good for El Salvador and for communities near the mine. Given the terrible precedent of violence, displacement and contamination in the Philippines, the lack of consent from people of El Salvador, and the negative impacts Oceana Gold’s  lawsuit has already had in El Salvador, I would like to know how you back up this claim.»

The CEO responded by saying all of the claims made in the statement were «spurious», even as the protestors outside the building could be heard yelling «OceanaGold lies!».

Media statement here.

All photos by Allan Lissner.

Time to Act on Right2Water

The European Commission Must Finally Take Action

Together, we have been campaigning for many years to implement the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Europe. We collected signatures — nearly 2 million. In December 2013 we delivered them to the European Commission, which disappointed all of us with their answer. With your support, we campaigned to get a strong resolution from the European Parliament in 2015. Our demands were also backed by the European Economic and Social Committee.

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