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The struggle for the right to water and water rights. “The sun does not forget a village because he is small. (African proverb)

Our societies leave 2.1 billion people without drinking water and 4.2 billion without regular and safe access for months of the year to water good for life. (1)

A new symbolic and concrete space-time of struggles for justice and peace on a planetary scale was born on July 28, 2022. This was brought out by the first manifestations of this day. “Universal Right to Water Day (J-DUE), in memory of the UN Resolution of July 28, 2010 recognizing the universal right to drinking water and sanitation. The demonstrations took place mainly in Rosario and Gualeguay chu (Argentina), in Montreal (Quebec-Canada), in Avignon, Paris and Poitou-Charentes (France), in Verona, Nardo and Altamura (Italy), in Martinrou ( Belgium). (2)

These are demonstrations promoted by the Agora of the Inhabitants of the Earth in opposition to the strategy of oblivion and non-respect of said right pursued by the dominant hostiles to the UN resolution. A strategy that has succeeded in a few years in imposing the definition of the right to water as “access to water on an equitable basis at an affordable price (in other words, the opposite of universal law). (3)

Let it be known: our societies no longer respect the principle of the universal right to drinking water and sanitation, as established by the WHO, FAO and UNICEF at 50 liters per day per person at responsibility of the community (public budget covered by taxation). This principle no longer appears in the 2015-2030 Agenda “The Sustainable Development Goals”. In Chapter 6, which discusses water, the 2030 Agenda only refers to “access to water on a fair basis and at an affordable price”. (4) The famous ecological transition is in fact a real regression in the field of the right to water.

On a European scale, the important Water Framework Directive of the year 2000, centered on the objective of safeguarding and promoting the quality of European waters, does not speak of the right to water. The revision of the drinking water directive, an integral part of the Framework Directive approved on December 16, 2020 by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, continues to ignore said right, despite the will expressed by 1 million 800 thousand European citizens who signed in 2013 the European Citizens’ Initiative for the right to water and water as a public common good. The pillar principle of the capitalist economy with regard to the price of market goods and services remains intact, namely the fixing of the price on the basis of the recovery of the total costs (“ full cost recovery principle ”) which thus legitimizes profit. This, despite the fact that the revision of the drinking water directive took place after the UN resolution and despite the fact that, in Italy, more than 27 million Italians had repealed the said principle by referendum (June 2011). Even today, the European Commissioner responsible for the environment does nothing but preach the “dogma” of “full cost recovery” as the basis of European water policy. This contempt from the side of the dominant groups within the European institutions is not surprising. The entire Italian political, economic and techno-scientific ruling class, with very few exceptions, did not respect the “democratic” will (of the people). Water legislation remains rooted in the principle of “full cost recovery”. For 11 years, water has been bargained for and water services privatized. This is a rare macroscopic example of the “unconstitutionality” of public political power at national and European level. And then we talk about the values ​​of freedom, justice and democracy of Western societies!

However, we welcome the references made to July 28 – Universal Water Right Day by French parliamentarians from NUPES at the National Assembly on July 28, in particular by Gabriel Amard and Mathilde Panot, president of the LFI-NUPES group ( 5). According to Jean-Claude Oliva, director of the Coordination Eau Isle de France, “ we have never talked so much about the right to water in a session of the National Assembly! (personal email). Also important is the broadcast on July 28 in Quebec (personal email from André Jacob).

The struggles for the DUE must strengthen and become popular especially in the face of the growing shortage, qualitative and quantitative of water for life, due not to natural factors, but to decades of predation, unsustainable withdrawals, contamination and pollution from our globally dominant economic and social system.

Let us mention the importance of the ongoing struggles in Mexico.

The response of the rulers is simple: having no interest in changing the system, they present the scarcity of water as inevitable and invite everyone to become “resilient” (resistant and adaptable) to scarcity. Worse, on December 7, 2020 the Chicago Stock Exchange decided to entrust the mechanisms of speculative finance (the derivatives markets) with setting the price of water. In other words, if we fail to prevent the stock market from taking over water, there will be more water shortages and prices will rise. Only those who can afford access to water according to their needs! These are not assumptions. This happened in California and Australia, where the stock market financialization of water has been experimented with in recent years. An economic, ecological and social disaster.

As Agora, we launched a first campaign in December 2021 “ Free the water from the stock market » by demonstrations in front of the stock exchanges of Montreal, Paris, Brussels, Milan, with the support of several parliamentarians, in particular euro-parliamentarians.

Last March a group of parliamentarians (35) from 18 countries approved a political resolution “Free water from the stock market” a first! More than 120,000 signatures on the platform. supported the petition “Let’s free water from the stock market”. (6) This fall the struggles will continue and will affect the safeguarding of all life on our planet Earth.

(continued in next article)



(2) Concerning all the events, see the website www.

(3) Cfr. Riccardo Petrella, An “edifying” story of water,–edifiante/

(4) UN, Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6. Clean water and sanitation. ” Ensure access for all to sustainably managed water supply and sanitation services »,

(5) (towards the end) and ,

(6) The results of the actions carried out on December 7, 2021 and of the international meeting of parliamentarians are detailed on the site Regarding the text of the petition (updated on July 28), see (for French-speaking countries too) comune-publico-mondiale-e-fuori-dalla-borsa.

Riccardo Petrella, Agora of the inhabitants of the Earth

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