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					                      World Water Forum                       The Hague 17-22 March 2000
                      PSI Briefing on: Critique of the Vision


Controlling the Vision and Fixing the Forum: the politburo of
privatisation
    1.    World Water Forum: NOT everybody‟s business .............................................................................. 1
    2.    World Water Vision: Restricted and Distorted ................................................................................... 1
    3.    WWV: NOT the People‟s Vision ....................................................................................................... 2
    4.    The Forum: Open Discussion or Ready-Made Conclusions? ............................................................. 3
    5.    Conclusion: the world deserves a better vision................................................................................... 4



1. World Water Forum: NOT everybody’s business
Attending the Second World Water Forum is not for everyone. Exorbitant entrance fees of USD
250 a day make it impossible for the rank-and-file to participate to the final act of the Vision.
This is made even worse because no interpretation is available and personal interpreters must pay
for registration, doubling the costs of attending the Forum.

This alone means that the Forum will not be representative of the people it will affect worldwide.
Instead, it will be like an exclusive rich men‟s club, dominated by multinational companies,
management consultants, financial institutions, and a few politicians.

In this respect, the Forum will in fact be like the entire process of the World Water Vision. The
Vision itself is the product of a small group of people and institutions, oriented heavily towards
the promotion of multinational water companies.


2. World Water Vision: Restricted and Distorted
The World Water Vision, inspired by the World Water Council, was guided by the World
Commission on Water for the 21st Century in close collaboration with the Global Water
Partnership. The combination of these sister organizations has led to limited representation,
limited discussion of the Vision, and lack of accountability and financial transparency.


A.        World Water Vision: Who’s In, Who’s Invited
A restricted number of organizations effectively participate in shaping the Vision, and all of
these organizations are closely related to each other. The most important are:
                      World Commission on Water (WCW);
                      World Water Council (WWC);
                      Global Water Partnership (GWP);
                      Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux;
                      World Bank
Other bodies involved include the Water Academy; UNDP; UNESCO; and CIDA.

The key positions in the whole process are firmly in the hands of very few people, holding
positions in the various key organizations:

        Ismail Serageldin is Vice President of the World Bank, Chairman of WCW, Chairman of
         GWP and CGIAR, and campaigned for the leadership of UNESCO;



           Public Services International                                                                   www.world-psi.org
                          Research by PSIRU, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK www.psiru.org
                World Water Forum                       The Hague 17-22 March 2000
                PSI Briefing on: Critique of the Vision


    René Coulomb, former director of Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, is Vice President of WWC,
     Member of the GWP Steering Committee and Member of the Water Academy (Specialists‟
     College);
    Ivan Chéret, Senior Advisor to the Chairman of Lyonnaise des Eaux, is also a member of the
     GWP TAC and the Water Academy (Specialists‟ College);
    Margaret Catley-Carlson, WCW Member, is also Chairman of the Suez-Lyonnaise-
     sponsored Water Resources Advisory Committee and former President of CIDA;
    Kader Asmal, WCW Member, is also Chairman of the World Commission on Dams, a joint
     initiative of IUCN and the World Bank, and one of the „patrons‟ of the GWP.


B.    Who Shapes the Vision
The publishers of the vision give a long list of people who have made contributions and
comments which have influenced the vision. But closer examination shows that the great
majority of these people too share institutional links with the same few organisations:
 Of the total 85 individuals and groups who contributed to the December 1999 draft World
    Water Vision: Report, at least 66 were linked either to the organizations involved in the
    Vision, multinationals or bodies sharing the same views.
 Contributions external to this close circle of organizations remained marginal. There was no
    contribution from trade unions or consumers associations.
All this undermines an open and transparent debate on the Vision.

C.    Lack of Financial Transparency:
The Vision exercise is extremely costly, with large sums of public money being spent by
intergovernmental and governmental organizations. Yet, of the organizations principally involved
in the Vision, only GWP publishes financial accounts;


3. WWV: NOT the People’s Vision
The Vision described in the draft Report clearly reflects the interests of the multinationals rather
than those of consumers, taxpayers and workers worldwide. This is a Vision of a global water
market dominated by multinationals with the support of multilateral agencies and national
governments. The Vision expects that the distribution of water would be governed by
commercial considerations with little attention for its social role as a public good.

In this Vision:
              There is no significant role for the public sector. Only multinationals are entitled
                to invest in and make profits out of water systems. The public sector is limited to
                subsidize private operations and invest in non-profitable projects, such as
                Research & Development, Flood prevention, and Pollution control.

                There is a superficial assumption that all public enterprises are necessarily
                 inefficient. The many examples of efficient public enterprises are ignored, the
                 dominant role of the public sector as water provider is ignored, the historical
                 reasons for the preference for public sector water are ignored, and the possible
                 ways of financing public sector infrastructure investment are not mentioned -
                 except for privatisation.



       Public Services International                                                  www.world-psi.org
                  Research by PSIRU, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK www.psiru.org
                World Water Forum                       The Hague 17-22 March 2000
                PSI Briefing on: Critique of the Vision


                The report assumes that knowledge and technology are the preserve of private
                 sector water operators, rather than the cumulative expertise developed in a sector.
                 Even the multinationals use local staff as their managers; and technology 'is just a
                 matter of shopping', in the dismissive words of one water company manager.

There are exaggerated and contradictory expectations on the ability of the private sector to
finance the necessary investment in infrastructure. The forecast surge of private investment under
effective regulation looks more like a mirage than a vision: the case of the UK shows that the
more effective regulation becomes the more multinationals seek non-regulated overseas profits.

There is a superficial and contradictory evaluation of institutional reforms:
         The Report suggests that public enterprises should be subject to the same regulatory
             regime of private companies, without considering that transparency and
             accountability of public enterprises can be introduced through self-regulation as in
             the case of the USA;
         The Report suggests that public enterprises should be subject to the same regulatory
             regime of private companies and their performance compared; this would induce
             public enterprises to follow exclusively commercial considerations with no attention
             to social and environmental considerations;
         The Report recommends that the private sector should be represented in international
             bodies responsible for setting standards and monitor their implementation. This
             would create an unacceptable conflict of interest and would allow multinationals to
             capture the international regulator, undermining the accountability of those bodies;
         The Report does not consider the systematic evaluation of public and private tenders
             for concessions as a necessary measure; when this occurs the cost to consumers is
             often contained as water prices do not have to reflect excess profits.

There is no objective evaluation of corruption, which is treated either as a “transaction cost” or a
pure product of public administrations. The active role of many multinationals in bribery and
corruption in developed and developing countries is not addressed by the Report.

There is insufficient attention to development considerations and excessive attention to
commercial considerations. Instead of treating the poor as citizens with rights and human beings
with dignity, the vision sees them simply as problem customers, and offers some shocking
solutions to this „problem‟.
         The Report suggests that low-income consumers should pay for water “in kind
             through their labor for installation and operation”. By implication, multinational
             water companies could enforce collection of debts against the poorest of the world's
             people by demanding their labour, free of wages.

4. The Forum: Open Discussion or Ready-Made Conclusions?
Discussion at the sessions of the Second World Water Forum is also restricted. Convenors and
speakers are mostly linked to the same few organizations. Three sessions in particular will
certainly advocate private sector participation as the only solution to the challenges of urban
water management worldwide.

   Of the four speakers of the session Citizens’ demands spur water management reform, one
    is linked to the WCW, the Suez-Lyonnaise-sponsored Water Resources Advisory Committee
    and CIDA, one is linked to UNESCO and one is linked to the Water Academy.


       Public Services International                                                  www.world-psi.org
                  Research by PSIRU, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK www.psiru.org
               World Water Forum                       The Hague 17-22 March 2000
               PSI Briefing on: Critique of the Vision


   The session Financing water infrastructure will be organized by the WWC. Among the
    eleven speakers, four are linked to multilateral agencies, four represent international
    consulting firms, one represents Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, one Vivendi and one the
    construction multinational Besix.

   Among the nine speakers at the session Water and Public-Private Partnerships, one
    represents Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, one represents the World Bank, and the only speaker
    from a public sector owned water company is one which has just become a commercial
    partner of Biwater, a private UK water company.


5. Conclusion: the world deserves a better vision
The entire process of the Vision and the Forum is a further alarming example of the kind of
undemocratic, restricted structures being developed in a globalising world. We are being
presented with a rigged exercise, designed to endorse the prescription of a small, unrepresentative
but powerful group, which is committed to extending the commercialisation of water - a
politburo of privatisation.

The world deserves a better vision for water than this. The world deserves a vision that starts
from the needs of the people of all countries, and how they can be met most fairly and efficiently;
from the needs of the planet itself, and the sustainability of any solution; from the need for an
open, democratic process and a democratically agreed way forward. The world deserves a vision
formed by a 'vast, public debate', involving the full range of views and evidence from rich and
poor, communities and workers, dissident and orthodox.

The Forum at The Hague cannot possibly produce this.




       Public Services International                                                  www.world-psi.org
                  Research by PSIRU, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK www.psiru.org
             World Water Forum                       The Hague 17-22 March 2000
             PSI Briefing on: Critique of the Vision



   THE VISION OF SUEZ LYONNAISE DES
                 EAUX




Ivan Cheret                       René                                Jérome Monod
- Senior Advisor to                                                    – chairman of                         Jack Moss
the Chairman of
                                  Coulomb                                                                      - Suez-
                                                                        supervisory
Lyonnaise des                     -         former                                                           Lyonnaise
                                                                       board, Suez-
Eaux                              director, Suez-
                                  Lyonnaise                              Lyonnaise


            Member
            GWP
            TAC             Member,                                                   Member, WCW
                            GWP steering        Vice-president, WWC
                            committee




                  Global Water                     World Water                      World Commission
                  Partnership
                                                   Council                           on Water for 21st
                                                                                         century




                                           World Water Vision

                                           World Water Forum


                                                                          Speaker at
     Speaker at session on                                                                           Speaker at session on
                                                                          session on
    Political implications of                                                                           Public-private
                                                                          Financing
          social reform                                                                                  partnerships
                                                                        Infrastructure




    Public Services International                                                     www.world-psi.org
                  Research by PSIRU, University of Greenwich, London SE10 9LS, UK www.psiru.org

				
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