English

The Water Challenge to Copenhagen negotiations

Dec 2 2009

by Prof. Riccardo Petrella *

An initiative of the World Political Forum

Excluding water problems as such from the negotiations of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) has been a serious historic error on the scientific, politic and social level. The same holds true for the exclusion of biodiversity.

Why an error? First of all, we don’t have to forget that the main greenhouse effect gas is steam (H2O), accounting for 75% of the global warming. CO2, second greenhouse effect gas by importance, contributes to it for 15 to 20%. But most of all it is an error because it’s not possible to discuss upon a world treaty destined to influence the future of humankind and of life on our planet, without focussing on water, that is the essential and irreplaceable element for every form of life.

The mistake can be corrected, future is not finished. That’s what we ask for: to introduce water in the current negotiations. This means to enlist three goals among the priorities of the world policy for a sustainable and lasting development of next decades: the human universal right to water; the protection and safeguard of water resources of the planet as a common good, human heritage and essential to the functioning of ecosystems (prevention policies, water saving policies, fight against excessive and unjustified withdrawals…); a public world water authority (to avoid the control of the world water policies by private industrial and financial global groups) .

The inclusion of water will give many advantages. It would promote the role of world common goods at the top of the agenda of strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The conception behind the “still-to-be-written” new post-Kyoto treaty would be inspired by a vision of the future of life on the Earth based on solidarity and on public political responsibility, no more left only to the interests of private finance and to the mechanisms of competitive world markets. Our societies would be guided by the principles of shared world security, a greater economic justice and effective welfare for all.

On this basis, the World Political Forum will attend the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change to submit to the attention of the participants the Memorandum for a World Water Protocol which has been elaborated by the international conference «Peace with Water», held at the European Parliament, Brussels on 12-13 February 2009, and co-chaired by the WPF President Mikhail Gorbachev.

We will demand in Copenhagen

– the inclusion of water problematic into the agenda of current negotiations on climate. The most important ongoing global negotiations on the future of humankind cannot be exclusively devoted to energy problems. To more than 3 billions people, the most critical problems are food, access to water and health. A new world treaty on climate, environment and development agenda must include water as a key item.

– the decision to initiate a multilateral UN based process for the period 2010-2012 aiming at the definition and approval of a World Protocol on Water. The international community disposes of all needed political, economic, social, scientific and technical knowledge and expertise for the approval of such a Protocol. The problem is not knowledge, nor finance, but changing priorities choices

– the recognition by the Parties of the need and urgency of a World Pact for Water, the outcome of which will be the World Protocol on Water. To this end the Conference should endorse the creation of a world-based participative instrument for cooperation in the field of water such as a “United Nations Water Authority” (UNWA), the main task of which would be to prevent and settle international disputes on property and use of water through common monitoring systems and collaborative transnational management, projects and institutions.

*Riccardo Petrella – Founder of the International Committee for the World Water Contract, Prof. Emeritus of Globalisation at the Catholic University of Louvain and member of The WPF’s Scientific Committee, Italy

site admin