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WCC joins interfaith coalition on water justice as World Water Forum begins in Brazil

WCC joins interfaith coalition on water justice as World Water Forum begins in Brazil

Mr Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC's Ecumenical Water Network, during a press conference at FAMA. Photo: Paulino Menezes/WCC

20 March 2018

As the 8th World Water Forum (WWF) unfolds in Brasilia, Brazil, the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Water Network (WCC-EWN) is taking part in a series of activities to challenge the corporate takeover of water bodies around the world.

Organized by the World Water Council, the WWF is the largest global event on water and takes place once every three years. The 2018 WWF opened on 19 March.

Historically, the WWF has been dominated by corporations, government leaders and researchers responsible for trade agreements related to water between countries and corporate bodies. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have a very small role even with a Citizen's Forum in place for their increased participation.

With registration fees as high as USD 140 per day, it is unlikely that CSOs or grassroots movements have a chance to fully participate in it.

Under the leadership of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), ecumenical and interfaith groups are gathered at the Alternative World Water Forum (FAMA, in Portuguese) and raising their voices to reinforce the spiritual dimension of water and the assertion of water as a common good, that cannot be privatized, but must be available to all living beings.

An ecumenical and interreligious tent was set up at the venue of FAMA, where a number of activities are taking place with the aim of strengthening national and international networks in defense of water and to expand advocacy processes in defense of water in Brazil and across the world.

Reflecting on the importance of the interfaith presence in Brasilia this week, Rev. Romi Márcia Bencke, CONIC’s general secretary, said: “We know what is at stake, the privatization of water and vulnerable populations at risk of losing access to this vital resource. We know that the water dispute will be - and in some places already is - the reason for conflicts”, she said.

“As churches and religious organizations, it is up to us to defend this resource as a human right that must be made accessible to all living beings”, she added.

Bencke also stressed that the Latin American continent has 12% of the world's fresh water and the most important aquifers on the planet.

Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC-EWN, is participating in the WWF and FAMA along with the International Reference Group members of EWN.  They are providing leadership for many workshops and seminars, both at the FAMA as well as at the WWF.

“We have to be present at the official WWF and raise a prophetic voice for water justice, amidst the perpetrators who are trading our water bodies at the expense of our poor communities”, said Suna, during a press conference at FAMA.

“The faith communities will continue to stand by the poor and marginalized who do not have access to safe drinking water. Faith communities will extend their solidarity for the struggle of water justice”, he added.

World Water Forum 2018

Alternative World Water Forum

WCC's Ecumenical Water Network