Water politics examined by UNPO special report

April 22, 2010 -- The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) has launched a Special Report entitled "Water Politics: Impacts on Disenfranchised Communities"...

Apr 23rd, 2010

• Organization marks 40th anniversary of Earth Day with publication of Special Report and holds transatlantic debates on the politicisation of water in Member communities across the globe.

April 22, 2010 -- On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, celebrated across the world on April 22 2010, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) launches a Special Report entitled "Water Politics: Impacts on Disenfranchised Communities," and hosts two events on both sides of the Atlantic to draw attention to the exploitation of UNPO Members' water resources.

Earth Day was established in 1960 to inspire awareness, promote conservation and appreciation of the environment. This Special Report seeks to comply with these aims, but notes that while Earth Day's success if rooted in local-level activism and engagement, the very prohibition of such participation of local communities in policy processes in many UNPO Member territories has led to devastation of natural resources, marginalisation in political structures, frustration and intra-community tension.

Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface and conservation issues span from global climate change to basic access to drinking water. In a unique approach, this report focuses on the perspective of policiticization of water as tool of governments; studying how power relations, historic circumstances and water scarcity have influenced the control of the most basic of human needs.

UNPO has organised two events to mark the publication of this report.

In collaboration with the SCHOLAS Student Environment Committee, UNPO is holding an academic seminar at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Along the theme of resource exploitation, this seminar will offer a forum to discuss the politics of water security and discover how the control of water supply has disproportionate impacts on indigenous or minority communities. The seminar will bring together an audience of students, academics and civil society.

UNPO representative, Amy O'Donnell, will draw attention to why this is a pertinent issue for their members, particularly those located along the route of the Indus River which originates in Tibet and runs its course through Gilgit Baltistan and Sindh. Also relevant is the impact of water scarcity on diminishing fish populations in Tsimshian and the appropriation of Maasai land in Kenya and Tanzania as a barrier to access to traditional water sources.

Dessu Dulla, a representative of the Oromo, a UNPO Member from a region located in the Horn of Africa, will focus the discussion by offering in depth insights into resource exploitation in what today is Ethiopia. In the state of Oromia, just 46% of the population has access to clean water and 13million people across Ethiopia need food aid as a consequence of factors such as drought and the allocation of fertile land for foreign food exportation. In the process of exporting crops and flowers, foreign investors are also exporting thousands of gallons of water a year and in many cases deals with central government mean they do not even pay for their water use.

This seminar is due to take place at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (Aula A) on Wednesday 21st April 2010 from 18:00-20:00.

The second event takes place to coincide with the 9th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum in New York. Representatives from the Khmer Krom, the Montagnards, the Maasai and the Crimean Tatars will speak about their own particular case studies. The volcanic eruption in Iceland last week, a potent reminder of the power of the earth's natural environs, has inhibited several UNPO Member representatives from attending.

The event will however go on as scheduled at the Presbyterian Conference Room, United Nations Church Center, 777 UN Plaza, 7th Floor, New York City, from 1pm -3pm, local time

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