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JSAPMDD participates in Alternative World Water Forum

JSAPMDD, in collaboration with the NGO Forum on the ADB and the Freedom from Debt Coalition, joined the more than 2000 people's organizations and movements that converged in Marseille, France for the Alternative World Water Forum (Forum Alternatif Mondial de l'Eau or FAME) last 14-17 March 2012 to expose the illegitimacy of the 6th World Water Forum (WWF) and forward concrete, people-centered alternatives. It helped surface and underscore the aggressive moves and the continued alliance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to promote private sector investments through water lending in Asia.

JSAPMDD representative Mae Buenaventura, was one of the panelists in a workshop last 15 March on "Exposing and Challenging the World Bank's Changing Water Strategies". Mae focused on " World Bank Water Policies and Projects in Asia: Policy Issues and Trends, Financing, and Impacts". She spoke on the continued and intensifying pursuit by the World Bank of the priorities already enshrined in its 1993 Water Resources Management Policy and the strategic directions henceforth set in its 2003 Water Resources Sector Strategy (WRSS). The policy has been roundly criticized and denounced by civil society the world over for imposing loan conditionalities that require water sector reform built on the promotion of full cost recovery and greater private sector investment.

An important part of her presentation showed the links of the WB with the regional development banks, specifically the ADB, in pushing the agenda of commercializing the water sector through water privatization and/or binding public entities to "capacity to pay" business principles (corporatization).

She added that WB and ADB strongly collaborate as well on pushing both water and power privatization and corporatization through packaged interventions that include deceptive co-optations of accountability, public participation and gender equality principles. WB's Water Resources Management (WB) and ADB's Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) are one and the same, she emphasized, sharing basic elements of cost recovery; invigoration of private sector investment; and support for and promotion of hydropower projects. ADB'S support for dam projects as part of IWRM is in step with the WB's invigorated return to dam construction under its "high risk/high reward" strategy.

JSAPMDD also contributed in another workshop on 16 March that focused on the theme "Land and Resources in the Context of Climate Change: In the Search of Just Solutions beyond Rio+20". Focus on the Global South, Food and Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Umphilo waManzi organized the event. Mae shared some insights on "Community-level Experiences, Campaigns and Responses" together with Mary Galvin (Umphilo waManzi) and Sheelu Francis (Tamil Nadu Women's Collective).

Mae highlighted campaigns around people's responses to threats to their land and water resources, specifically the issues of water privatization and IWRM in the Philippines and Indonesia. The two countries have many parallels in terms of the failed IFI-designed and supported privatization of urban water services and sanitation (Jakarta and Metro Manila) that has ushered in successive water tariff hikes and increased debt burdens; and the drive for IWRM implementation.

Mae pointed out that people themselves with the most to gain from rejecting the commodification of water, are motive forces of the campaigns. This is organizationally harnessed and expressed through the formation of locally based alliances (e.g., PATTAK and PALAG Mindanao) that also engage academe, public officials, religious communities, etc. These organizations have also enabled the expansion of analyses and perspectives and the linking with other groups and organizations towards more strategic ends of social justice and system change. She said that in the road to Rio+20, this call for system change should be rallied to most strongly as the sharpest rejection of the "green economy" and "green growth" being promoted by private corporations, IFIs and North governments.

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