NGO Statement at the Bonn Conference on Freshwater

We welcome the initiative to invite NGOs and other Major Groups to participate in Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues and in Working Group and Plenary discussions. This procedure should be adopted in discussions on water management on all levels.
We also welcome the statement by Minister Wieczorek-Zeul that the German government is prepared to support a multi-stakeholder review of private sector participation in the water sector.
We are pleased to note that some of our concerns are reflected in the main outcome documents of the conference; the Bonn Ministerial Declaration, and the Recommendations for Action. In particular we welcome the inclusion of a statement in the Recommendations that private sector participation in water supply should not be imposed on developing countries as a conditionality for funding.
However, we find that several important points, although brought forward by the NGO community several times during the conference, are absent in the outcome documents:

Water is a human right!

Governments should ensure that everyone has access to a lifeline supply of safe water and that basic needs of the ecosystems are not compromised. We note that relevant UN Conventions, particularly regarding the Rights of the Child, specifically refers to the right (of the child) to water. This principle should be applied throughout the UN system and to all humans.

Water is a common good!
The character of water as a vital resource requires that it be managed as a common good carrying social, cultural, spiritual, as well as economic values. The problem of overconsumption should be adequately addressed, and such non-sustainable patterns of water use strongly discouraged, by bodies discussing or making decisions on water management.

WCD recommendations should be adopted!
Governments and international agencies should adopt and implement the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams.

Water is not a tradable good!

With all its associated values, water resources and water service delivery should be kept out of international agreements on trade. Access to adequate water, notably for those living in poverty, cannot be jeopardised.

We strongly urge the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to take place in Johannesburg, 2002, to take up all the issues mentioned above, and include them in its recommendations to the world’s nations on actions for sustainable and equitable development.
Bonn, 7 December 2001