In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!

Declaration of La Via Campesina in the Alternative World Water Forum

We, as peasants’ and farmers’ organizations from countries all over the world, members of La Via Campesina, met between the 12th and 17th of March 2012, for the Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille, France. Among others, the testimonies from Turkish, Brazilian, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Portugal, Italy, French, and Mexican delegates gave voice to the distress of “environmental victims”, making known the plight of people affected by dam construction, by the shale gas and mining industries, by the grabbing, commodification, scarcity and widespread pollution of water, and by the repression and murder of activists who are defending water.

We demand that the right “of” and “to” water should be respected within the framework of food sovereignty. The right “of” water means continuous respect for the entire water cycle.

We state that the privatization and commodification of water and of any other common good (land, seeds, knowledge, etc.) are crimes against the planet and against humanity. Large-scale dams and hydro-electric projects grab and sequester water, taking no account of the needs, traditional practices and opinions of local communities, and totally disregarding the protection of ecosystems.

The water and biodiversity crises, the social and financial crises, and the energy crisis are all linked. They are the consequences of neo-liberalism and of the industrial agricultural model that is promoted by the international financial institutions (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization), through free trade agreements, by the World Water Council, and by transnational Corporations as well as by most national governments.

The Green Economy is a false solution to climate change and water scarcity. The supposed answers to the crises: the commodification of water, of carbon and of biodiversity; nanotechnology; geo-engineering; and GMOs represent new opportunities for neo-liberal economic expansion. Despite the fact that these technology-driven and market-driven responses are the main cause of the environmental and social chaos that we are suffering, neo-liberalism’s headlong rush continues.

The industrial model of production, with its monoculture and its agro-chemicals, has polluted our water and endangered our health. We defend agro-ecological practices and small-scale and peasant agriculture that put into effect food sovereignty and contribute to the protection and sustainable use of water.

Water is a common good for the benefit of all living beings and it should be under public, democratic, local and sustainable management. Local and traditional systems of knowledge regarding forms of water management that take into account and protect the whole ecosystem have existed for thousands of years; they have demonstrated over time their effectiveness. We believe that public policies and laws related to water should recognize and respect this knowledge.

In Defense of Food Sovereignty: Stop Water Grabbing!