Let them drink Coke…the corporate plan to price water
The era of free water is over.
Or at least, it will be if the 45 multinational companies which signed a communiqué at Rio+20 get their way.
The companies – which include Coca Cola, Nestle and Glaxo Smith Kline – are pushing for a "fair and appropriate price" to be placed on water to end the current 'free for all'.
"Those who can afford water should pay… Companies like certainty and in areas where there is no pricing they are very vulnerable. It could potentially push up prices in some markets but better to pay more and have certainty of supply," a UN official overseeing the initiative told the Guardian.
But what about those who will be priced out? And what about the inevitable rises in food prices that will follow?
In a world in which 1.2 billion people live in conditions of water scarcity and climate change is meaning more drought across the world, the corporate solution is to slap a price on what is left to ensure there’s plenty of water to make Coke.
Last year, Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup, talked about the great business opportunities in the creation of global markets in water as a commodity. He said this could happen in 25-30 years time. But now, it appears that a number of companies want to move towards this nightmare vision of water for the rich a lot sooner than that.
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Regular updates from our campaigners on issues around the green economy, financialisation and the Rio+20 conference.
The great nature sale
Discussions about the green economy are being captured by rich country governments and corporate interests. Their proposals include allowing speculators to bet on the price of water, selling off land that indigenous people and small-scale farmers have used for generations and creating new financial instruments linked to the survival of endangered species.
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Our briefing, Rio+20 summit: Whose green economy?, explains what is being proposed at Rio, the corporate plan for the future of our planet, and the sustainable alternatives being proposed by social movements and civil society in the global south.