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Archived Articles on Global Public Goods


Global Public Goods


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Coca-Cola Plant Must Stop Draining Water (December 19, 2003)

A state court of the Indian state of Kerala ordered Coca-Cola to stop drawing ground water for a bottling plant supplying most of southern India. In its judgment, the court argued that ground water belonged to the entire society, and that the company had no right to break the natural water cycle by extracting this much natural wealth. (Guardian)

Water Wars (December 4, 2003)

Due to increased consumption and pollution, water has become the "blue gold" of the 21st century. Yet instead of ensuring the fundamental human right to access clean water, global trade agreements follow the dominant economic philosophy of the "Washington Consensus." They treat water as a commodity, and award its control to big transnational companies. (Polaris Institute)

Negligent Towards Water Quality (August 6, 2003)

The Center for Science and Environment accuses the Indian government of seriously undermining public health. Aware that the country's water utilities lack the financial means to improve service, the Indian government still does not force them to comply with recognized standards of water quality.

Global Health Care (July 17, 2003)

The world faces a global healthcare crisis. As aging populations strain the social programs of rich countries, the health needs of poor countries continue to go unmet. The author argues that markets cannot meet this challenge alone, because health is a global public good. (Globalist)

Globalization in Our Local Economy: Our Water, Their Profits (July 8, 2003)

Everyone needs water, but when global trade rules force municipalities to privatize their utilities, those who cannot pay go thirsty. (ZNet)

Drugs Should Be a Common Good (July 2003)

Members of the Inter-American Development Bank will not loan Haiti the money to supply clean water and improve health infrastructure until the world's poorest country pays back the outstanding loans made to military dictators. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

On Common Ground? (May 20, 2003)

The Chair of Global Water Partnership questions whether humans are really sharing common global goods when two billion people live on less than a dollar a day. The UN Millennium goal to half poverty by 2015 is unrealistic without real participation of the marginalized. (OneWorld)

Stockton Water Deal Stirs Privatization Ire (March 30, 2003)

The intiative of the government of Stockton, California to privatize the city's water supply angered the public by excluding them from the decision making process. The mayor claims it will cut costs but many citizens remain skeptical over the benefits of privatization, especially after the state's catastrophe with Enron. (Associated Press)

Busting the Water Cartel (March 27, 2003)

An attendee at the World Water Conference in Kyoto reports on the debate that emerged between proponents of water as a salable commodity and water as a basic human right. She writes, "efforts to turn the Forum into a thinly veiled commercial for corporate solutions to the global water crisis backfired." (CorpWatch)

The Threat to Science as a ‘Public Good' (March 17, 2003)

This SciDev.Net editorial warns that the information technology and biotechnology industries are swiftly transforming the role of science from "public good" to profitable commodity, with serious implications for the widening global digital divide.

Water for People Water for Life (March 2003)

This UNESCO executive summary describes eleven challenges that constitute the world's water crisis. Using graphs, charts, and case-studies, the summary illustrates the obstacles and also the goals for water management that could benefit individuals as well as the environment. Major themes mentioned include the risks posed by natural disasters, the damaging effects of a growing population and problems specific to urban centers.

Broken Promises and Social Turmoil (March 2003)

Author Sara Grusky debunks myths surrounding the social benefits of water privatization. She uses case studies from seven countries around the world to show how privatization of this fundamental resource can lead to inefficiency, weak regulation, environmental destruction and the restriction of access to the poor. (Public Citizen)

Multinationals Ride Wave of Water Privatization, Investigation Finds (February 4, 2003)

A report from the Center for Public Integrity reveals that in the last twelve years, transnational corporations have extended their grasp on the world's water utilities fivefold, raking in profits upwards of $5 trillion. The report also implicates the World Bank for promoting water privatization at the expense of poor people. (OneWorld US)

Social Watch Annual Report 2003

This document describes the effects of state industry privatization in areas including health, water, sanitation, transport and energy. Individual analyses from over fifty countries conclude that privatization erodes social and environmental rights, inhibits development goals and worsens conditions for the poorest people. (Social Watch)


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UN Consecrates Water As Public Good, Human Right (November 27, 2002)

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights issued a statement declaring water a global public good and a basic human right. The statement has clear ramifications for the global move towards water privatization, but the committee remains cautious about explicitly condemning privatization. (Inter Press Service)

Thirsty for Justice (September 4, 2002)

Water privatization in Ghana, especially by major multinationals Suez and Vivendi, threatens to deny access to this scarce resource from the poorest Ghanians who need it most. This debate pits the National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water against the World Bank's deregulatory schemes. (Common Dreams)

International Task Force on Global Public Goods (July 3, 2002)

Sweden, France, and the UNDP put forward this proposal on an international task force on global public goods. The task force should work to enhance the provision of global goods from a perspective of poverty reduction and sustainable development. (Ministry for Foreign Affairs Sweden)

Funding Global Initiatives for the Public Good (March 21, 2002)

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and special adviser to UN Secretary-General, advocates special funding for health as a global public good. Developing countries have previously expressed fear that funding such goods will decrease development aid. (Inter Press Service)

Aid Financing for International Public Goods (February 2002)

This article from the Overseas Development Institute discusses how to provide global public goods through international aid. It stresses the need for increased funds and a change in allocation of aid to meet development targets.

EU Focus on Global Public Goods (2002)

The European Union stresses the importance of Global Public Goods (GPG) in achieving sustainable development. This EU fact sheet, prepared for the WSSD 2002, covers shortfalls in current arrangements and sets priorities for additional funding of GPGs. (European Commission)


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Global Public Goods: The Missing Component (October 2001)

George Soros argues that globalization brings new opportunities for financing and provision of Global Public Goods. Financial support exists, but provision must be improved. A process which requires both international and non-governmental assistance. (Project Syndicate)

Transboundary Water Management as an International Public Good (2001)

This report looks at financing and institutional aspects of the provision of water management from a development cooperation perspective. (Ministry for Foreign Affairs Sweden)


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"Global Public Goods: A New Way to Balance the World's Books (June 2000)

Inge Kaul writes an enlightening article on the idea of "global public goods". She argues that since different people prefer one global public good to another, it is important to ensure that the top priorities of different population groups are being considered "equitably". ( Le Monde diplomatique )

What is a Public Good? (June 2000)

Global Public Goods, from human rights to technical norms, must benefit everyone and reflect the priorities of different population groups. Otherwise the goods will loose their effectiveness. (Le Monde diplomatique)


Knowledge as a Global Public Good (1999)

Joseph Stiglitz reviews the concept of Global Public Goods, focusing on knowledge as a public good and its importance for development. He argues that these goods provide a central rationale for international collective action. (World Bank)

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