WATERFORALL - 1st Hemispheric Assembly of Red VIDA - Summary

Subject: [WATERFORALL] 1st Hemispheric Assembly of Red VIDA - Summary Report

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Summary Report from the 1st Hemispheric Assembly of the Red VIDA (Vigilancia Interamericana para la Defensa y el Derecho al Agua or Inter-American Network for the Defense and the Right to Water)

January 25-26, 2005 in Porto Alegre, Brazil (Translated from Spanish by Sara Grusky, Water for All, Public Citizen)

With the same enthusiasm and commitment that originally gave birth to the VIDA network in August of 2003, the network held its first Hemispheric Assembly on January 25-26, 2005 where more than 60 people from 14 countries representing diverse social movements and organizations came together prior to the meetings of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

During two days of intense work, we had opportunity to share the experiences of the fight against privatization of water in many of our countries and to dedicate our efforts to the formulation of a joint plan of work. This joint work plan looks at a medium-term horizon and it identifies the main challenges that we will need to conquer in order to advance our mission to defend the right to the water.

We opened the agenda of the Assembly by sharing the energy and hope that we all gain from the victory in El Alto, Bolivia, where the transnational water company Aguas de Illimani (Suez) was expelled following the struggle, perseverence and conviction of the citizens and also from the victory in Uruguay where history was made by constructing democracy through the passage of a referendum by more than 60% of the population that supported the reform of the constitution to assure that water is a fundamental human right and a public good.

The second day of the Assembly was dedicated to elaboration of the core content of the work plan of the Red VIDA. We divided into small groups for reflection and debate and from this work gathered together the important contributions and proposals to develop the workplan of the network for the following two years (2005 - 2006). The work plan defines three key points: 1. We will challenge the privatization of water by developing campaigns against the large transnational water companies (like Suez), the international financial institutions (like the World Bank and WTO) and their national and local accomplices who assure the application of privatization policies. 2. We will work to defend, to promote and to improve the public systems of water and sanitation management. We will support the development of alternatives models of water management that ensure democracy, citizen participation, and social responsibility. 3. Similarly, we will work to broaden and extend the membership and alliances of the Red VIDA. In this context, it is important to mention that we were very pleased to have the participation of organizations from Colombia and Paraguay - who played the role of observers in the event and showed interest in joining the network.

For each one of these mentioned lines of work, we identified strategies and programs that will be sent out in next few days as part of the full report of the assembly of the Red VIDA. It is also important to emphasize the participation of the Red VIDA in the diverse activities of the WSF from the opening march in which many people attended carrying messages in defense of water and the fight against privatization. The red VIDA also organized in collaboration with many other organizations a number of workshops including workshops exposing the role of the World Bank in promoting water privatization, a speak-out on formulating a UN Treaty on water, a special workshop to build solidarity for the struggle in El Alto, Bolivia, a strategy session to plan for the World Water Forum in Mexico City and many others! The Red VIDA also worked closely with Public Services International, Brazilian environmental and trade groups, the freedom from Debt Coalition in the Philippines, RMALC and many others to craft a unified Water Action Platform that was released at the WSF. For more information contact: info@laredvida.org or view our website at: www.laredvida.org

Sara Grusky Water for All Campaign Public Citizen Phone: (202) 454-5133 Website: www.wateractivist.org

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