A call for Water Justice in Copenhagen

We, Movements for Water Justice from all over the world, united by common struggles from Cochabamba to Plachimada to Hasankeyf and Narmada Valley, and from Columbia to South Africa to Phillippines, all in the defence of water, and energised by the commitments we have collectively undertaken in the Declarations of the Alternative Water Forums of Mexico City (2006) and Istanbul (2009), do hereby strongly reassert that we share the following principles:

  • Water is a fundamental and inalienable human right.  Every human being must have access to water to meet their basic needs, thus guaranteeing a socio-economically and culturally dignified life for every person.

  • Water is a common good and our common heritage.  It is essential for the sustenance of ecosystems and all forms of life therein. It is our fundamental obligation to safeguard it to prevent water scarcity and pollution as well as to preserve it for future generations.

  • Water democracy is central to solving water crisis. Conservation, development and management of water resources (for its diverse uses) must not be profit-driven.  It needs to be carried out in a sphere that is public, community-based, transparent, participatory and accountable. All local, national and international public institutions have a responsibility to uphold equitable, sustainable, and responsible and water governance.

Having acknowledged/ recognized that:

  • The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is the most important worldwide negotiation that can influence the future of humankind and all forms of life on our planet,
  • The current negotiations do not touch water - the basis for every form of life - nor do they address the crucial interrelationship between climate and water crises;

  • The effects of climate change on water will directly affect agriculture and the food security of billions. The agricultural sector, accounting for 70 percent of global water use, is not only affected by climate change but can also help to mitigate it;

  • Sustainable and multifunctional agriculture%u2013%u2018a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way%u2019%u2013is central to climate solutions, both adaptation and mitigation;

  • Water is primarily seen as a resource to be exploited for producing energy using energy sources that are alleged to have less impact on climate, ignoring the fact that those sources have their own negative effects, sometimes including negative effects on water availability;

  • The WWF declaration of Istanbul explicitly aims to exploit water resources to increase the production of hydroelectric power by building new dams and to support the production of water-draining industrial agricultural production including that of biofuels. Attempts are also under way to revive nuclear power, which has a strong negative impact on water resources;

  • Attempts to achieve the "Millennium Development Goals" by ensuring access to drinking water for at least 50 percent of the water-poor by 2015 through a market based approach have proved to be a complete failure;


The Governments participating in the Copenhagen Climate Conference (December 7-18, 2009) must:

  • Include water in the negotiation agenda. A global agreement on climate must include rules and principles of equity, sustainability and democracy, for safeguarding our water, land, and the health of our ecosystems;

  • Apply an ecosystem approach to both adaptation and mitigation to help to protect ecosystems, and thereby build long-term climate resilience and maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems;

  • Support ecological farming rather than increased industrial agriculture, which is agro-chemical dependent and water intensive;

  • Establish a working group for the drafting of a World Water Agreement, binding upon all countries, under the aegis of the United Nations, to be presented for approval by the end of the negotiations in 2012;

  • Through the United Nations General Assembly, upon the conclusion of the Copenhagen Conference, establish a World Water Agency that replaces the illegitimate World Water Forum. Such an agency must be an effective tool for worldwide action and cooperation about water resources, independent from the great private financial, economic and business interests, and entrusted with conflict prevention/ resolution powers.

The signatories, on behalf of water justice advocates, movements, associations and committees undertake a commitment to promote and support the demands of this appeal, both within the Inter- governmental Conference and at other spaces organised by the civil society in Copenhagen.

Water Movements Italian Forum
Blue Planet Project
France Libert
World Political Forum
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Initiative to Keep Hanankeyf Alive
Council of Canadians


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