An Open Letter to Activists


New Year greetings to one and all.

As many of us prepare for events in 2011/12, some are already on their way to Dakar, capital city of Senegal, West Africa for the World Social Forum 2011. We hope to speak with you sometime during the period 7-9 February.

This letter goes also to those who don’t have Senegal in their diary for February 2011.  At Dakar, there are bound to be many water-related events, but probably very few water-specific events, and the water message can get lost in the noise.  More on why this is important, later in the letter.

At first glance, some may develop an opinion that there are few significant activities in 2011 -  World Social Forum 2011 -> World Economic Forum 2011 -> World Social Forum 2012 -> World Economic Forum 2012 -> World Water Forum 2012.  I hope to convince you otherwise, and invite you to join a 3-hour  event on the internet in February.  First, the good news.

WSF2011 organisers have structured  the event so water activists are not torn between multiple themes in Dakar, and for the following 12 months.  AXIS 2 applies:

‘For an environmental justice, for a universal and  sustainable access of humanity to common goods, for the preservation of the planet as source of life, and especially of land, water, seeds, forest, renewable energy sources and biodiversity, guaranteeing the rights of Indigenous, original, traditional, autochthonous, native, stateless, quilombola and riverain peoples and the rights of their territories, resources, languages, cultures, identities and knowledge.’

Not a water-only message, and bringing in many dependencies that make the water message relevant.  Dakar will be a place to acknowledge our water warriors and their past achievements, and for new water warriors to step forward.


The important link

For activists, Dakar offers a short-cut to bypass the next twelve months of disappointments, and to focus singularly on World Water Day 2012 in Marseilles, France.  Speed is of the essence.  Whereas previously the World Water Council closed submissions for the upcoming World Water Forum in mid-year, the timeframe in 2011 is shorter.  Participants in the 2009 Alternative Water Forum and the Peoples Water Forum are not invited back to Istanbul for the 3-5 May 2011 preparatory session.

For three hours in February, the message from a dialogue roundtable in Dakar will be ‘to strengthen water activist unity towards World Water Day 2012’ and you are cordially invited to join us in discussing how this could be done.


The noise that drowns out the water message

Before surveying the wins and losses since World Water Day 2009, we encourage you not to under-rate the strength of the noise that continues to drown out the water message.  Here are a few highlights of the noise.

·        Since 1992 and before, the water message is caught up in the environment, arriving late on the scene or not at all.  Thus we have the Dublin Principles (2002), the 2009 debacle in Copenhagen, and COP16 (Cancun) for which the results are not yet in.

·        As in Senegal (2011), so also in Marseilles (2012) there will be a French language barrier, with a high risk that the French water industry will claim high-ground advantage and attempt to hijack the water message.  This applies to Suez, Veolia and the French ‘establishment’.  So please, French-speaking activists, now is the time to step forward.

The wins and losses (2009-2011)

In finishing this letter, a non-exhaustive list of some of the water highs and lows since Istanbul in March 2009.

·        Despite challenges in the French courts, Irena Salina’s movie For Love of Water (FLOW) has been released to good reviews (14 attached, here http (colon) //

·        We anticipate the news is not good from the Mesopotamian Social Forum about construction of Turkey’s Ilisu dam and depopulation of the ancient town of Hasankeyf,

see here http (colon) //

·        Water-related activities for the October 2009 World Education Forum – Palestine did not eventuate.

·        In May 2010, the Indus river in Pakistan flooded, with more than 23m people made homeless here, http (colon) //

·        In December 2010, the Murray river in Australia flooded, with the results not yet summarised, here http (colon)//


One self-organised activity for Dakar in 2011

POAD9998 9999 is a grassroots student organisation based in Adelaide, South Australia.  Throughout 2010, we have built on-line experience under the World Social Forum umbrella in Osaka (March), Detroit (June), Istanbul (July) and Palestine (October).

The goals of the Skype-based round table are:

1.      To determine whether activist strategies for Africa, Asia and elsewhere need strengthening in the leadup to World Water Forum 6 in Marseilles, France.

2.      To gauge whether unity has been achieved in the global water struggle, see http (colon) //


Chris, POAD9998 9999

Filed January 5th, 2011 under Uncategorized