FAMA and WWF8, two different worlds discussing water issues in Brasilia

From 17 to 23 March two large events took place in the capital of Brazil, both dealing with water to raise awareness about (rising) global water problems and to discuss pathways to achieve good quality drinking water and sanitation (Sustainable Development Goal 6).

The biggest event: the 8th World Water Forum (WWF8), organized by the World Water Council, had a participation of over 50,000 people from mostly governments and business, with some academia and NGOs that could afford the trip to Brazil and costs of the event. The biggest Forum in numbers in spite of the fee that ranged from 170 euros for students to 660 euros for participants from OECD countries. It showed that big interests are at stake in water and water resource management, but it also led to a protest letter of NGOs from the Butterfly Coalition to the organisers that too many people and NGOs from Africa and Asia could not participate due to the high costs, stating that “too many are left behind” at WWF8.

Opening ceremony FAMA

The alternative world water forum, in Portuguese ‘Foro Alternatovo Mundial de Agua’ (FAMA), was self-organised by Brazilian NGOs and social movements in protest to WWF8 for its inaccessibility to the poor; qualifying WWF8 as an ‘elitist’ gathering. FAMA took place in the shadow of WWF8 with 4000 participants that paid only a small fee of 50 reais (13 euros) in the Brasilia City Park and at the University Campus. In contrast: WWF8 took place at the big Ulysses Guimaraes Convention Centre and the Mane Garrincha Stadium. But the size and budget were not the only difference between the two Forums. There is a huge ideological gap in between.

Participating at both sides I saw a commitment and passion to help solving the ‘global water crisis’, to achieve SDG 6, fight climate change; that has its first and most noticeable impact in the water sector, and to help realizing the human rights to water and sanitation. It is remarkable that both forums identify the same major problems related to water, but the debates and proposed solutions are like a left-turn at FAMA and a right-turn at WWF8. At the same time there is no clearer evidence that water has become a political issue.

FAMA represents itself as the voice of people. Raising the question: “for whom is lack of water a problem?”, it highlighted the fact that the poor are not participating in WWF8. Debates at WWF8 are primarily held between governments and business. The solutions that they provide, are in the interest of government and businesses, not (necessarily) in the interest of the poor. “False solutions”, according to FAMA participants. Protests at FAMA were not limited towards WWF8; the Brazilian government and Brazilian industries were also frequently under attack for non-democratic, unjust and non-sustainable policies. The main objective at FAMA was for social movements to learn from and support each other in struggles for a more democratic and just management of water, natural resources and land.  In the final declaration of FAMA they stated that the social movements are united in the fight against privatization and financialization of nature. Water is a commons, not a commodity!

At WWF8 the objective was to come up with recommendations to global policy and law makers, increasing the profile of the water sector and its actors and stakeholders. WWF8 ended with a final declaration in which governments and UN institutions were called to increase their commitments to advance SDG 6, to increase finance for water and sanitation and to cooperate with the private sector and NGOs to help solving the crisis. The way to address water problems at WWF8 is by increasing finance for water and sanitation. This finance is not seen as just development aid. According to many at WWF8, there are business opportunities in water and sanitation that are waiting to be captured. The expo at WWF8 provided a space where companies, governments and organisations could meet, organise events to show their business cases or attract customers or investors. For them water definitely is a commodity.

Closing ceremony WWF8

It is a pity that the worlds of FAMA and WWF8 are so close with regards to the goals (clean water and sanitation for all and sustainable water management for future generations), but so far apart on the identification of root causes of the problem and on how to address them. In order to make progress for the poor and people that are ‘left behind’ without access to water and sanitation it is indispensable that the two different worlds meet, respect and learn from each other’s view and cooperate. Because the adage ‘water is life’ counts for all of us.

EuSAIN welcomes new EU Drinking Water Directive: increasing access and improving quality.

This Thursday, the 1st of February 2018, the European Commission has published its proposal for a revision of Directive 98/83/EC (the “Drinking Water Directive”). We welcome this proposal, which places water utilities at the centre of a more holistic approach to managing the provision of drinking water services.

EuSAIN joins ‘Building Change’

‘Building Change: Global Goals at Home and Abroad’ is an initiative of ‘Partos’, ‘Woord en Daad’ and ‘Foundation Max van der Stoel’. It is a follow up from ‘Ready for Change’ in which Dutch Development NGOs aspire to contribute to an ambitious and concrete implementation of the SDGs. This coalition is broadening to the wider Civil Society and advocates for a Fair Dutch government policy that has no adverse impact in developing countries. We want Sustainable Development at home and abroad. ‘Building Change’ puts the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) firmly on the Dutch and European political agenda. We are a coalition of over 40 Civil Society Organisations and we strive to broaden the alliance to knowledge institutes, business and local governments. Together we expect to be able to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

‘Building Change’ works to realise these Goals in a coherent, fair and ambitious manner with a supportive and facilitating government. Participation of other stakeholders like financial institutes, and business is essential. We strive to bring all stakeholders together on three major Sustainable Development themes: Climate, Finance and Trade. We need real break throughs in these areas and we aim for a united voice towards the Dutch government to realise this.

EuSAIN is part of the working group on SDG 6, together with the Netherlands Water Partnership, Gender and Water Alliance, IRC and Partos. SDG 6 is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda and essential to reach all other development goals. Clean Water and Safe Sanitation need to be prioritised in order to reach health for all (goal 3), food for all (goal 2), end extreme poverty (goal 1), achieve gender equality (goal 5) and education for all (goal 4). It is also essential to combat climate change (goal 13), reduce inequalities (goal 10) and reach sustainable cities and communities (goal 11).

MP Corrie van Brenk adopts SDG 6

Corrie van Brenk is the Dutch MP that will monitor and promote Dutch government commitment to SDG 6. She supports the “adopteer een SDG”/ ‘Adopt a SDG’ – campaign by a coalition of Dutch Civil Society Organisations (‘Building Change’) that EuSAIN is part of.  The ‘Adopt a SDG’ – campaign aspires first of all to make the SDGs more visible in Dutch politics. More visibility of the SDGs improves the connection of Dutch policy to the global Sustainable Development agenda. In addition, we hope that it promotes coherence between policy at home and abroad.

Clean Water and sanitation as SDG 6 aims, means that in 2030 everyone has access to safe and affordable drinking water. That women and girls can make safe use of sanitary facilities. But also that the water quality is improved, the discharge of chemicals is addressed and the ecosystems that are water-based, are to be protected and restored.

With the contribution of Corrie van Brenk the ‘Building Change’ coalition works further to achieving a fair and ambitious implementation SDG 6.

We support Corrie van Brenk in her mission and wish her a lot of success!


19 November is World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Today, 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.

The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to a safely-managed household toilet by 2030. This makes sanitation central to eradicating extreme poverty.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and partners.


One of the global activities that you can join is the #UrgentRun. Each year on World Toilet Day, the World Toilet Organization commemorates this day with the Global Urgent Run. The Global Urgent Run is a call for urgent action to end the sanitation crisis. It aims to bring communities around the world together, to raise awareness for the global sanitation challenge and engage people with sanitation issues in their local communities. Support the sanitation cause by joining the 2017 Urgent Run event near you. Look where it takes place this year

Why we need to talk about shit

Today, about a billion people worldwide face the indignity of defecating in the open. The lack of clean and safe school toilets leads to higher dropout among girls once they reach puberty. Diarrhoeal diseases – a direct result of poor sanitation – claim more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. A taboo topic often shrouded in ignorance and silence, toilet sanitation begs for open discourse and social awareness in its global implications on health, education and safety. Jack Sim asks the provocative question: what would it take to mobilise our society and see social change in this sorely neglected issue, and what can we do about it? Widely known as Mr Toilet, Jack Sim broke the global taboo of toilet and sanitation by bringing the agenda to global media centre-stage. After attaining financial independence, he retired from business to devote the rest of his life to social work. In 1998 he founded the Restroom Association of Singapore and the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001, a global network and service platform for toilet associations to promote sound sanitation and public health policies. WTO declared November 19th as World Toilet Day which has now been adopted as Official UN World Toilet Day.

Watch Jack Sim explaining why we need to talk about shit >    

5 takeaways from Stockholm World Water Week

Experts have pointed to a growing momentum among politicians, finance and business leaders toward meeting the global water and sanitation development goals. However, many also warn that development finance is still woefully small, that silos persist among actors, and that not enough attention is being paid to reaching the poorest of the poor.

These were some of the main messages heard during last week’s Stockholm World Water Week, which saw more than 3,200 participants from 133 countries descend on the Swedish capital for six days of sessions and discussion centered around reaching the water and sanitation Sustainable Development Goals. How to access new sources of finance and how to spend existing flows more effectively was a prominent theme. The World Bank now estimates an additional $114 billion per year is needed in order to extend universal access to WASH beyond what was required for the Millennium Development Goals. But in 2014, development finance for water totaled just $18 billion per year.


Meeting WASH specific SDG targets by 2030 is a huge challenge. Currently the U.N estimates that 2.1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water, and 4.5 billion are without improved sanitation services. Furthermore, with population growth projections at their highest in water scarce areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, and increasing rates of urbanization, the challenge is set to get even harder in the coming years.

Here are five key takeaways and issues to watch.

1. The SDGs have ‘galvanized’ the WASH sector

2. But how much is being translated into practice?

3. Unlocking new financial flows for WASH

4. The most promising new developments are in urban sanitation

5. Waste management is an increasingly urgent problem

Read more >


Environmentally and Social Just Globalization is Possible

As G20 leaders meet in Hamburg, Germany,  July 7-8, they are once again being advised by the Civil20 (the formal civil society link to the G20) that if, but only if, globalization targets the systemic causes of inequality, will  Agenda 2030, the UN Sustainable Development Goals be achieved.

Before, at the UN Financing for Development Forum, G20 leaders and other governments, concluded that “the current global trajectory will not deliver the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions by 2030” (United Nations e/FFDF/2017/L.1). Rethinking globalization is now on civil society and government agendas.

Contrary to those who seek to discredit civil society as being anti-growth and anti-globalization, including some business leaders, the C20 considers international cooperation, not nationalism, to be the way forward. The 300 citizen-based organisations, who gathered in Hamburg June 18-19, presented their recommendations on how to build an environmentally and socially fair globalization to Angela Merkel, this year’s G20 Presidency.

Making globalization environmentally and socially-just begins by considering food security; the nexus of the environment and economics; reforming the international financial architecture and protecting the spaces for civil society to participate.

For globalization to be good for food security and agriculture it needs to be based on the knowledge that smallholder farmers feed the vast majority of the world’s population.  G20 countries must act on the evidence that there is an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity in many agro ecological conditions. Family farms can produce more food per unit of land, if provided with supportive infrastructure and services similar to that already provided to agri-businesses.   Rethinking globalization does not mean an end to large farms.  It means enabling and protecting family farming systems.  Lacking land tenure security and the rule of property law, smallholders are losing their land at alarming rates. Their livelihoods and global food security are at heightened risk.

For globalization to be good for the environment and economics there must be an end to water grabbing.  Investment funds are seeking to profit from the monetization of water and turning freshwater into an economic asset gaining in scarcity value.  Water is embedded in the extraction, production, processing and trading of natural resources and commodities including the energy used in all of these process.  Its real cost, like other externalities, needs to be priced and tax according to the value it adds to corporate profits and investor returns.  While water needs to be protected as a common right, where it is used to support economic growth, its cost must incorporate the protection and restoration of the environment and be managed under the polluter-pays principle.

Read the full C20 recommendations >https://civil-20.org/


Human rights to water and sanitation at the core of SDG 6

C20 Summit 18-19 June, Hamburg

Workshop 4, Sunday 18 June, 13.30 – 15.30 hrs.

The G20 has committed itself to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and committed to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development, improve global food security and nutrition for all people. The obligation of governments to sustainably ensure the human rights to water and sanitation for all without discrimination must be the driving force behind the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
While the fundamental role of water as a human need and a human right has been acknowledged by the UN and member states, too often strategies to secure that right conflict with the competing interests and actions for the same resource. Sustainability of water resources is threatened by the cumulative impacts of over-extraction and pollution. Achieving long-term sustainability of our hydrosphere requires re-embedding social, cultural, and environmental concerns within the local, regional, and global systems that plan, finance, develop and manage our world’s water. A rights-based approach is the best way to ensure that a pro- poor and global justice perspective predominates, with regards to access, use and control of water resources. Access to water and sanitation is the start of economic and social development and of food and nutrition security.
We ask the G20 to take responsibility for the sustainable use of water, including preserving healthy (water) ecosystems and guaranteeing the human rights to water and sanitation. The overuse of water by agribusinesses can affect negatively the water requirements of small-scale food producers in subsistence agriculture or for local markets.

• How do we change focus of the G20 from “economic growth based on markets” to “sustainable development based on human rights”?
• How do we make the G20 put the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation at the core of their SDG policy?

Join the debate with:
Maren Heuvels (BORDA), Gabriela Sacco (Catedra del Dialogo y Cultura del Encuentro), Jerry van den Berge (EuSAIN, Right2Water) and Claudia Wendland (WECF)
Moderator: Marijana Todorovic (Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung)


CSO coalition messages to ministers at SWA high level meeting

From over the world Water/Environment Ministers and Finance Ministers met at the Sanitation and
Water for All (SWA) high level meeting in April 2017. A global coalition of CSOs, led by End Water Poverty passed the following messages to advance progress in achieving SDG 6.

Access to water and particularly sanitation and hygiene for the poorest populations and communities
is lagging behind!

More than one third of the global population – some 2.4 billion people — do not have access to sanitation facilities (of which 70% live in rural areas), and 946 million people practice open defecation. These water and sanitation needs especially affect the health and economic potential of women and girls.

– Governments have to take into consideration the urgency of addressing the needs of the poorest
and most marginalised (in both rural and urban areas and informal settlements) through adequate
policies, participatory approaches and financial planning and funding allocation.
– Governments, donors and service providers need to include the Human Rights to Water and
Sanitation as guiding principles for the implementation of SDG 6.1 and 6.2 and ensuring that
financing reaches the most marginalized.
– Governments, donors and international organisations need to honour their financial obligations
and increase the resources available to the sector and the poorest populations, especially on
hygiene and sanitation.
– Addressing the rights of women, ethnic minorities and people living with disabilities is key to achieve universal and sustainable access to WASH for all.

Generating adequate financing requires trust and integrity in strengthened and more efficient national
systems, with strong safeguards and CSO and local participation, as well as, broad societal consensus
on the way WASH services are sustainably financed.

  • Governments should establish strong accountability mechanisms and allow for stakeholder
    engagement and oversight mechanisms for large investment programmes, including collaboration
    with a capable independent institution (e.g. auditing office or specialized watchdog CSOs) for
    oversight and complaints management. They should enable citizen monitoring and feedback
    through all stages of policy and programme implementation.
  • Governments and service providers (including CSOs, CBOs and NGOs) need to put in place
    transparent mechanisms to track financing to water, sanitation and hygiene, linking expenditures
    with the services provided and ensuring that increases in expenditure produce the intended results
    (e.g. increased or expanded services).
  • Financial mechanisms need to include sustainable financing of local CSOs, CBOs or NGOs to
    facilitate a strong and independent civil society. Empowered local communities can greatly
    contribute to SDG implementation by monitoring and providing feedback on the performance of
    governments and service providers, as well as by directly engaging in service delivery.

CSOs have a role to play alongside and in collaboration with governments, donors, and
international organisation in the implementation of the SDG 6.1 and 6.2 and of the Collaborative
Behaviours, as they are also implementation partners. Participatory approaches for service
delivery and budget programming should be reinforced to allow for all partners to play a role in
the new ambitious SDG agenda and to promote mutual accountability.