Maude Barlow: Water Should be Free For Everyone, Not Bottled For a Few. Maude goes to Switzerland - warning tales here for Canada, water, and privatization…
… Nestlé was one of the first companies to commodify water. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, seeing what it did to the groundwater supplies of the surrounding regions, the company bought up huge quantities of mineral water deposits in Switzerland. Nestlé is the biggest bottled water company in the world and is scouring countries all over the planet for new supplies of water
…..Nestlé has consistently promoted public-private partnerships whereby private water companies run water services on a for-profit basis. Company head Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, referred to often in the Swiss media as the “Water Man,” repeatedly promotes the full commodification of water (although after much criticism, now admits that the poor need some water too). He has proposed setting aside 1.5 per cent of the planet’s water for human rights, the rest going into the market. Nestlé also promotes GMO crops, which are voracious users of pesticides.
So these policies are the ones that the company will promote to the Swiss government in its development work. It is a travesty that this is the water face to the world of Switzerland. The country has one of the finest public water systems anywhere. SDC defends this partnership and publicly states that a key goal is to promote the interests of Swiss water companies abroad.
But what does Nestlé know about delivering water and sanitation services? Nothing! It is involved with this partnership to gain credibility and to have the Swiss government open doors to new private water markets in the developing world. It is the same reason the company is deeply involved with the funding arm of the World Bank. In fact, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe chairs a new advisory board called the 2030 Water Resources Group that helps set policy models and priorities for water and sanitation programs around the world.
This is a disaster in a world where demand for water is outstripping supply at an accelerating rate. As Wenonah Hauter from Food and Water Watch says, Nestlé’s goal is to shift government policy away from providing public municipal water supplies to people, and toward a dependency on bottled water to provide basic drinking water. And of course, it is about capitalizing on the global water crisis.