The Water Stewards Network works to build cohesiveness among regional water networks emerging around the world and to emphasize the theme of stewardship in the global dialogue. This project also works to collect and disseminate informational resources on sustainable water management in order to empower communities to take more local responsibility, thereby rebuilding a culture of stewardship.
With a strong focus on youth, the Water March will travel the country in an RV powered by alternative energy sources visiting water festivals, conferences, schools, music festivals and other events to engage people in a dialogue about our common water resources. The overarching goal of the Water March is to raise awareness about the major threats to our water and foster local activism. We will empower people to take simple actions of water conservation and protection in their watershed by providing the necessary informational tools and will facilitate continued engagement by connecting local watershed groups with national campaigns.
The Water March will use the mediums of film and music to first provide context and convey the urgency for local action. By utilizing today’s omnipresence of bottled water, we can exhibit how the problems surrounding the corporate interests in our water translate into the need for better local stewardship. The Water March will encourage communities to take two specific actions: pursue the passage of a local government resolution (or even legislation) to maintain local water resources in the public trust, and to choose tap water over bottled water. By focusing on drinking water quality - something that everyone is concerned about - and encouraging one simple step people can take in their lives that will have an immediate and positive effect, we hope to set the stage for more involved water stewardship. In order that community activism continue after our visit, we will be connecting local groups to well-established national campaigns of the water movement that will provide the support and impetus for further action. By traveling the country, we will be able to rally involvement in these campaigns, increasing their effectiveness, and identify ‘hot spots’ that are or will be in need of their support. Our on-the-road campaign –organized and executed by a young, experienced and energetic team – will have particular appeal for youth and will attract significant attention wherever we travel, communicating an inspiring message of hope while simultaneously expressing urgency. The Water March will provide the means for the water movement to better reach the public and will help to build momentum on the path toward sustainability.
Water is the foundation of all life, yet over a billion people are without adequate supplies of potable water due to drought, pollution, and profligate consumption patterns. The scarcity of clean water has the potential to cause great conflict. It equally provides an opportunity for people to unite in addressing a common, vital challenge.
There is a mounting international campaign to provide water security for all people as a basic human right. Concomitantly, corporations, international trade and development organizations, intergovernmental agencies, and governments are proceeding to turn water into a commodity and allocate it through the free market. Disproportionate distribution of wealth between North and South, East and West, and within individual nations threatens access to a common birthright. The move toward privatization of water resources and services is dominating the debate at a crucial time in the formation of international water policy. With the recent Johannesburg Summit, 3rd World Water Forum and the UN General Assembly's International Year of Freshwater all focusing international attention on water issues, there needs to be a concerted and organized effort to oppose this trend.
There is already a substantial effort on the part of numerous international bodies, including various branches of the United Nations, the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and the World Bank, to aid the regions of the world experiencing acute water scarcity. These organizations are concentrating on increasing current infrastructure and importing water, an approach that may offer temporary relief but does little to address the fundamental problem: water scarcity. If anything, perpetuating the status quo in delivery and sanitation infrastructure will augment problems of scarcity in the long term. Considering our wasteful use and reckless contamination of pristine waters, focus needs to first be given to conservation, restoration, and the reuse of wastewaters. The ways in which society utilizes water for industry, agriculture, and sanitation must be rethought.
This group of large international agencies currently dominates the realm of global water policy through integrated initiatives and unified rhetoric. Also partnering in these initiatives are entities such as the IMF, Vivendi, Suez, and other transnational water and utilities corporations. In effect, this group is a monopoly and allows no room for opposing views to enter the policy debate. It is imperative that these current trends in water policy do not remain unopposed.
We at the Water Stewards Network see this global grassroots campaign (that has now developed into the Peoples’ World Water Movement) as an unprecedented opportunity to engage communities at the grassroots level. Through this engagement, we hope to foster a culture of local water stewardship. This movement has arisen by necessity in order to defend our rights from the corporate agenda for water. The privatization and commodification of water resources is not the root of the problem though - it is a false solution that will only exacerbate the growing global water crisis. The true problem, which has created the market corporations are pursuing, is society’s unsustainable use and mismanagement of this vital resource. This mandates that, in conjunction with defending the global water commons from corporate theft, the movement begin to focus on how to foster sustainable management at the local level. The network of people and organizations that has grown surrounding these issues allows for an extraordinary level of communication and information exchange- providing the necessary strength and collaboration to achieve our goals. The Water Stewards Network has played a major role in bringing a focus on sustainable management into the Peoples’ World Water Movement.
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