Opposing water and land grabbing

Water grabbing involves the diversion of water resources and watersheds by domestic and transnational companies, Governments, individuals, thus depriving local communities who depend on water and ecosystems for their livelihoods. It also has damaging environmental effects as watersheds are made unsustainable by overuse of limited water. Buyers are multinational corporations and Sovereign Wealth Funds: about 200 million hectares of land have been stolen to rural communities, above all in Africa, and the main interest is always underground resources, above all water, wells and other sources.

 

While water grabbing has a long history linked to the enclosure of commons, it is recently emerging as a new threat associated with the renewed focus on land grabbing, due to:

  • increasing food speculation and large scale agricultural investments for food and bio-fuels production;
  • processes of privatization of water and water services management, particularly in urban contexts;
  • other processes of exploitation of water resources, such as extraction of water for large-scale food production, single crop production for bio-fuels (sugar cane, soya, palm oil, rapeseed oil, etc.), monoculture of trees for construction or heating industry, even clean development mechanisms such as forestation for carbon credits, the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity. It also is evidenced in a growing trade in virtual water.

 

The Protocol establishes that water grabbing, as well as water-fracking and dams, are to be treated as  bad practices to be discouraged and submitted to a rigorous check as for their environmental and social impact. It also states that States Parties shall establish in their domestic legislation sanctions of adequate gravity to discourage waste, pollution, limitation of access to water, as well as the destruction and damaging of water services, infrastructures, and water basins in general.