Home » Uncategorized » Shattering Consensus in Kyoto: Public Citizen’s Water for All Campaign

Convened to make the world safe for transnational water corporations,
the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto instead became a venue for exposing
the moral bankruptcy and fiasco-laden track record of the push to
commodify the world’s water.

Public Citizen, the Polaris Institute and the Council for Canadians
were at the forefront of a participatory process that ultimately
attracted 225 groups in support of a declaration blasting the Forum’s
official but illegitimate claim to “consensus” in favor of
privatization. Instead, the worldwide coalition of public interest
groups presented an alternative declaration of water, one that envisions
water as a human right and not a commodity to be managed for corporate

Additionally, Public Citizen, Polaris and the Council were joined by
representatives from several other groups, including International
Rivers Network, Public Services International and the Gender Network, to
take the microphones and challenge corporate control at venue after
venue in Kyoto. As a result, the pro-privatization message Forum backers
hoped to promote through official statements and slick press kits was
submerged in most media reports beneath criticisms of corporate control
and calls for a new vision of water management wherein water is a human

To the chagrin of the World Bank, corporate executives and government
officials who had convened the Forum, Kyoto simply didn’t go as planned.
And by the end of the Forum, there was no doubt that the opposition to
privatization is growing stronger, more organized and more vibrant on
virtually every continent.

Much of the public in the United States is only beginning to become
familiar with the ramifications of water privatization. In a relatively
short period of time, Public Citizen has established itself as the
leading public interest organization in the United States in the fight
against water privatization, and is a vital part of campaigns against
corporate control of water in key U.S. communities such as New Orleans,
Stockton, Lexington and, most recently, Indianapolis.

Public Citizen has also secured a position as one of the most prominent
groups on privatization issues internationally through our coordination
of the International Water Working Group and other efforts. Public
Citizen produces a steady stream of research, such as corporate
profiles, case studies of privatization’s failures, and details of
successful public alternatives to privatization. From the impact of
international trade agreements to the price-gouging, environmentally
destructive track records of transnational water corporations, Public
Citizen is necessarily and increasingly merging the domestic and
international sides of its Water for All campaign.

To view Public Citizen’s research or read more about Public Citizen’s
organizing and public education efforts, visit