Opposing financialization of water

Treating water as a commodity available on markets implies that its economic value grows as a result of increasing demand for water and increasing scarcity of supply. The further step on such a logic is “nature pricing”: not only water services, but the whole natural cycle of water is treated as an economic good, as well as other environmental goods. Perspectives of future water crisis make then water attractive for financial investments: water is transformed in financial assets, responding to demand for investments producing profits and returns. On stock exchange market we find new financial instruments as futures on water, water loans, water credits, water bonds, etc. They even involve our personal savings, through bank investments and pension funds.

 

There are of course also new models of sustainable economy more aware of the need to protect environment and natural resources, such as the green economy, circular economy, the eco-systemic services. However often they tend to consider that solutions to water scarcity are dominantly technological, that technologies for water recovery, purification and treatment offer opportunities for economic growth and therefore for financial investments. This proves to be more and more attractive also for public money, thus public institutions such as Cities, Regions and States, from defenders of public goods, become share-holders and promoters of public-private partnerships.

 

In order to reverse such a dangerous trend to consider water as a financial asset, the Protocol establishes that States parties ought to protect the universal human right to water, by providing appropriate legislation, including public participation mechanisms, by promoting the creation of water public and community services, by taking full responsibility with respect to management carried out by a third party, by preventing actions of individuals or corporations that may interfere with the human right to water, by committing themselves to reject liberalization agreements in matter of services that could inhibit the full realization of the right to water.