Global water markets
As water is becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change, some business leaders are anticipating that great profits could be made through the establishment of a global financial market in clean water. This could lead, for example, to water speculation, in the same way that we currently have food speculation.
I expect to see a globally integrated market for fresh water within 25 to 30 years... Once the spot markets for water are integrated, futures markets and other derivative water-based financial instruments — puts, calls, swaps — both exchange-traded and OTC will follow.
-William Buiter, chief economist, Citibank
WDM has previously campaigned against the privatisation of water utility services in the global south. The involvement of private companies from the global north in water distribution has led to sharp rises in household bills in poor countries and little improvement in water access. For example, in Tbilisi, Georgia, the privatisation of the state-owned water company in 2007 resulted in a 262 per cent rise in tariffs between 2007 and 2010.
The impact of speculation on commodity markets has been food price spikes, leading to hunger and malnutrition. Water and people’s access to water should not be dependent on the whims of financial markets.
Green economy blog
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.
Want to know more?
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.