Canadian Maude Barlow battles for water rights at the United Nations
Canadians can be remiss in praising their own, but Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow deserves applause for her international crusade to protect the world's water resources. It's not a sexy subject in the developed world; we focus more often on flooding than scarcity, especially with the kind of spring the mid-west is enduring this year. Canadians living in a land of lakes, rivers and underground reservoirs often can't imagine scarcity.
Moreover, it's not really an issue that can be explained in a tweet, except perhaps, "No water, no more."
The longterm threat is two-fold: climate change that threatens water resources and the growing trend in trade agreements to treat water as a commodity. Guaranteed, water will be a sexy subject when we're lined up for it or paying exorbitant prices for clean water from private corporations. In Bolivia, it took mass protests that shut down the country to wrest water from corporate hands - and that was merely a first volley. Canada doesn't even have a national strategy for water conservation. That's a serious problem, given recent treaties that threaten to deplete water reserves, including the Great Lakes.
Barlow is a pioneer in the fight for water resources, touring endlessly to give speeches (as shown in videos) and take part in seminars. As the first senior advisor on water to the president of the UN General Assembly, she gives her first address on water rights to the UN tomorrow. Says Barlow: "Water must be seen as a commodity that belongs to the Earth and all species alike."
Those are fighting words to the corporations knee-deep in lawyers and paid academics who champion their interests.