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NEWS

Contacts:
Mark Hays, (011)+90 053 176 77 481
Bobby Ramakant, (011)+90 053 176 77 455
Nick Guroff, 1-617-447-2507

For immediate release:
March 16, 2009
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Corporate Water Forum Spurs Mass Protest
Coalition urges UN to stop providing cover for life-threatening
privatization of water

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – As the 5th World Water Forum (WWF) begins in Istanbul,
activists, social movements and non-governmental organizations from Turkey and
around the world are holding counter events and actions that directly challenge the
legitimacy of the Forum itself.

As part of these actions, a group of 118 organizations from 33 countries has signed
and issued a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that calls on
him to withdraw his support for the CEO Water Mandate, a corporate driven water
initiative under the UN Global Compact that facilitates corporate control of water
resources. Representatives of the letter’s signatories will deliver a copy of the letter
to and share their concerns with the participants of a CEO Water Mandate meeting
in Istanbul at the World Water Forum on the evening of March 16th, 2009, at 6
p.m. in Hasköy Hall, in the VIP Block, on the 1st Floor of the Sütlüce
Congress and Cultural Center.

“Those who are dealing with corporate control of water’s manifold downsides –
water takings, water shut-offs, price hikes, short cuts on water treatment – are
people deeply affected by the water crisis and corporations’ actions,” said Mark
Hays, organizer for Corporate Accountability International. “Yet these same people,
who are going thirsty, don’t have a true voice at these meetings – their voices need
to be heard, and they should be in the drivers’ seat.”

The letter was delivered to the Secretary General last Thursday, and outlines the
group’s concerns about the transparency and legitimacy of the CEO Water Mandate.

Water justice activists are calling on the United Nations to take the lead in creating
transparent, democratic space to decide international water policy. But to date, the
UN continues to be in a contradictory position by, on the one hand, raising
awareness about the world water crisis and calling for needed change, and on the
other housing the CEO Water Mandate. Groups like the Polaris Institute and
Corporate Accountability International are challenging the CEO Mandate because it
allows corporations to undermine democratic control of water under the aegis of the
United Nations.

The Mandate’s leading endorsers currently include water bottlers Coca-Cola, Nestlé,
and Pepsi, as well as Suez, one of the world’s largest privatizers of water services
and systems.
“All of these corporations have a vested interest in controlling water resources and
profiting from water scarcity, so there is a great danger in leaving international
water policy in such hands,” said Richard Girard, researcher for the Polaris Institute.

“While the corporate endorsers of the Mandate will be discussing this week how
corporations can ‘be part of the solution’ to the water crisis by exerting more
influence over global water policy, people around the world are saying loud and
clear that corporations that profit from people’s access to water should not be in
driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about who gets water and who doesn’t,”
said Bobby Ramakant, letter signatory and spokesperson for the National Alliance of
People’s Movements (NAPM) of UP, India.

WHAT: Delivery and Presentation of Formal Letter to the U.N. at the CEO
Water Mandate Meeting
WHEN: Monday, March 16, 2009, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (18.00 hr to 20.00 hr)
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey – World Water Forum, Sütlüce Congress and
Cultural Center, VIP Block (Section), Hasköy Hall.

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