Commons and Resource Rights

“(…)Desert is growing in over a hundred countries in the world, absolutely unnecessarily. In places like the Horn of Africa, where the story you’ll read about is too many people, too little rain, bad government, they don’t tell you that there is huge agribusiness and biofuel corporations and land grabs in Africa now that are twice the size of Great Britain, that are taking the best, most accessible water, and using it to grow products to send not only out of the watershed but out of the country.” –Maude Barlow

Listening to Maude talk about the current water situation was both informative and inspiring. In the context of the increasing global inequality and growing number of droughts and floods occurring around the world, Maude’s message was both timely and urgent. She highlighted the critical nature of the current water situation, pointing out that the water companies themselves have published a study saying that by 2030, global demand for water will have outstripped supplies by 40 percent. At the same time, Maude stressed the grave injustice of people dying around the world for lack of water when others make massive profits from it, and the relevance of water in broader resource rights struggles.

On Friday November 4th, 2011 Institute for Policy Studies office hosted Maude Barlow for a talk about the campaign to establish the Great Lakes as a commons and how this can further the rights of local communities to manage and conserve their water.

Maude Barlow is one of the leading experts on the world water crisis that is unfolding. She is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the UN General Assembly in 2008-9. Maude is also the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, which works internationally for the human right to water, and is board chair of the Washington DC-based organization Food & Water Watch. Her advocacy has played a major role in getting the UN to pass the Declaration of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in 2010.