Global Policy Forum

Global Public Goods


Picture Credit: Katarina Walburg

In  a globalizing world, problems and solutions reach across national borders, resulting in a growing need for international collective action. During recent years, the concept of Global Public Goods (GPGs) has become an increasingly important part of international policy making. The concept appears in the agendas of UN agencies, the IMF/ World Bank, and Non-governmental organizations. Everyone depends on public goods, neither markets nor the wealthiest person can do without them. Clean environment, health, knowledge, property rights, peace and security are all examples of public goods that could be made global. The concept remains criticized for being too academic and abstract but it has also brought about enthusiasm and strong advocacy. Questions remain unanswered regarding financial aspects and how to provide global public goods. Some fear that money will be taken from international aid while others suggest global taxes as means for distribution. This section of the site seeks to outline the latest policy ideas in regards to Global Public Goods and sustainable development policies.

UN Documents

Making Every Drop Count (February 15, 2007)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that two-thirds of the world's population may be facing "water stress conditions" by 2025. Water scarcity, already an issue for 1.1 billion people worldwide, is worsening due to poor resource management and increased usage, especially in agriculture. The FAO reports that techniques such as harvesting rainfall and reducing waste in irrigation may be the solution for "sustainable, efficient and equitable management" of water resources.(UN FAO)

Human Development Report 2006 (November 9, 2006)

The 2006 Human Development Report argues that water and sanitation must be put "front and centre on the development agenda." 1.1 and 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean water and sanitation respectively, causing the death of nearly two million children annually. Reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation would save these lives as well as bring large economic benefits to developing countries, and is essential to reaching the other seven MDGs. Hoping to see diminishing "tolerance for [...] extreme inequalities," and the G8 countries taking on a central role, the report calls for a 'Global Action Plan' to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis similar to the way major US and European cities tackled their deadly water and sanitation situation 100 years ago. (UNDP)


2013 | 2012 l 2011 | 2010 | 2009 |2008 |2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | Archived Articles


The Battle to Keep Water Out of the Internal Market - a Test Case for Democracy in Europe (March 20, 2013)

A new European Directive is threatening to privatize Europe’s municipal water services by requiring even those municipalities with minimal use of the private sector to offer their contract to EU-wide bidding. This would allow large multinationals like Suez and Veolia to expand their operations. In addition, Troika resolutions on the financial crises in Greece and Portugal have resulted in several public water utilities being put on the market for privatization. Although the European Commission sees privatization as the way forward, the directive has faced much opposition from the public and civil society groups that want water services to be exempted from it. Recently, approximately 1.3 million Europeans petitioned to recognize water as a human right. Privatization would likely contradict this with putting profits back in the hands of companies that own and run water systems, rather than improving services for the people. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

In Africa, Corruption Dirties the Water (March 14, 2013)

 The World Bank estimates that countries lose 20 – 40% of public finances that would otherwise be used for water supply due to corruption. In Africa, a continent where approximately 343 million people lack access to proper drinking water supply, rampant corruption at all levels prevents millions from obtaining access. Maria Jacobson of the Stockholm International Water Institute explains how the poor are the most affected as formal services providers operate on bribes while informal providers offer supply at inflated prices, thereby limiting the options available. While some suggest privatization as an alternative to inefficient public management, researchers like Karen Bakker discovered that privatization fails to act as a remedy for existing lack of service for the most marginalized people. Civil society groups have an important role to play in ensuring government accountability for public services. Furthermore, regulation by governments and donor agencies is also needed to prevent the rising cost of meeting the MDG targets on water and sanitation globally. (IRIN)

Remunicipalisation: Putting Water Back into Public Hands (March 6, 2013)

A report by the Transnational Institute highlights the failures of water privatization in cities worldwide and advocates for “Remunicipalization”. Buenos Aires and Paris, two case studies from the video, are good examples of public authorities reclaiming back water services from failed attempts at privatization. Privatization in both cities resulted in significant tariff increases and corporate profits with no subsequent improvements in services to the public. Following remunicipalization, both cities developed innovative programs, such as the worker cooperatives in Argentina connecting an additional 700,000 users from low income areas, and Paris’ water solidarity allocations and public-public partnerships with other cities. The report recognizes the challenges involved in remunicipalization but emphasizes the need for transparency and people-centered approach to urban water supply. (TNI)

Corporate Land Grabs Reveal a Hidden Agenda: Controlling the Water (January 24, 2013)

Reports on land grabbing reveal that investors target control of both the land and the water beneath. Today’s “water barons”- multi-billionaires, financial institutions and corporate multinationals- are increasingly investing in water resources globally. Over-extraction and large land purchases in the Ogallala Aquifer and Great Lakes region in the US are proof that water scarcity is a growing problem not just in the Global South. Furthermore, efforts to track the water footprint of companies and other water-related risks, such as the “water disclosure project,” could actually backfire by providing information to investors interested in water-grabbing. Thus, regulatory mechanisms at the national and international level are needed to control large-scale land (and water) investments threatening the lives and livelihoods of local communities dependent on these resources.(AlterNet)

The Privatization of Chile's Sea (January 18, 2013)

The Chilean fishing industry is monopolized by several fishing conglomerates, controlled by 7 families with strong ties to national policy-makers. The government recently extended the 2002 fishing law, while applies market based principles to create a quota system for the already collapsing fish stocks.  Over the last 20 years, stocks like the Jack Mackerel have diminished from 30 million to just 3 million tons annually. Many in the Chilean parliament stress that the law will create a sustainable fishing industry. However, small scale fishermen strongly oppose it, saying it gives the large fishing companies an unfair advantage to exploit fish stocks over the coming 20 years.  The situation highlights the marginalization of indigenous fishermen from decision making jeopardizing their only means of livelihood. Ensuring recovery of Chile’s fish stock requires laws focusing on the preservation rather than economic potential of this common resource.


Challenging Nestlé in Switzerland (September 21, 2012)

As the biggest bottled water producer in the world, Nestlé has a strong political influence in Switzerland, a country with no legal mechanism to prevent political donations from corporations. With an annual marketing budget bigger than that of the World Health Organization, the company is also heavily involved in funding and policy making at the World Bank. As one of the first companies to commidify water for profit and promote a bottled water culture worldwide, the company has a very large influence at the national and international level. (The Council of Canadians)


Water Crisis Offers Change for Unity Over Strife (August 1, 2011)

1.4 billion people lack access to safe water and half the world’s population is expected to live in areas of high “water stress” by 2030. 80% of the world’s fresh water sources originate in basins that cross national and cultural boundaries leading to concerns of impending “water wars.” Such concerns are exacerbated due to the reality of climate change and water depletion. A new approach to the sustainable distribution of water is necessary. International cooperation must be achieved through treaties ensuring a more equitable distribution of the world’s water. (InterPress Service)

Universal Access to Knowledge as a Global Public Good (June 2009)

This paper, by the Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO, argues that knowledge must be created, preserved, shared, and utilized, because it is arguably the greatest “wealth” humans have and this wealth is central to economic development.  There is currently a “knowledge divide” between the North and the South, which should be addressed by creating mechanisms for South-South sharing. This will allow the South to become more competitive and help to bridge the gap between the North and the South. Countries should work towards improving access to education and invest resources in science and technology while promoting advanced skill development. Ultimately, economic development should not be viewed as an “empiric and dogmatic process”, but a process that emphasizes education and knowledge. (Global Economic Symposium)

Privatization Has Failed to Deliver Safe, Affordable Water for All (May 2, 2011)

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution recognizing the human right to water. Despite efforts by transnational activists seeking to increase access to water, many governments continue to dither over their responsibility. Policies that pushed privatization schemes have failed miserably. This article argues that the barriers to universal water provision are “political in nature and not just technical.” (Alternet)

Rare Earths Leave Toxic Trail to Toyota Prius, Vestas Turbines (January 6, 2011)

Rare earth materials, vital for creating components that go into "green" products from wind turbines to hybrid cars, are leaving a toxic waste trail across China's countryside. Moreover, refinement and other industrial processes necessary for their production are spewing large amounts of fluorine and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. As China places export restrictions on these minerals, questions loom about where fresh supply will be sourced from. (Bloomberg)


Is the Water Privatization Tide Finally Turning? (September, 2010)

The UN acknowledgement of water as a human right establishes that the primary function of water is not to serve as a source of corporate profit. Water privatization in developing areas has come to a turning point with civil society campaigns that have been effective in combating the private sector. This in combination with well-founded research that shows poor records on water privatization projects has sent water company shares into a nose dive. Clearly the private sector is not "interested in people who do not have the money to pay for their services." (Transnational Institute)

Bad Water More deadly Than War (March 18, 2010)

The executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute says that bad water kills more people than wars or earthquakes. Some 3.6 million people are estimated to die each year from water-related diseases. A joint report by WHO and UNICEF says that while the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for drinking water might succeed, much needs to be done to come close to the sanitation MDG target. (IPS)

The Hidden Water We Use (March, 2010)

Vast amounts of water are used to produce food, clothes and other consumer goods. As a global water crisis looms, matters of water accountability are growing more important.  Individuals should be aware of their personal water usage (and wastage). The "water footprint" of an individual is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by that individual. This interactive tool shows how much water is used, directly and indirectly, to produce different commodities- revealing unexpected "hidden water" usage.  (The National Geographic)



International biopiracy protocol: Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples (December 2009)

A UN Working Group met for the 9th time in November 2009 to discuss access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits. This could help protect traditional knowledge and indigenous rights. The meeting in Montreal produced the "Montreal Annex," a document that for the first time outlines the range of opinions within the UN Convention on Biodiversity. The Annex will be the focus of further negotiation in March 2010 that will finalize the protocol. Jennifer Tauli Corpuz reports that The Annex contains basic principles that would protect the rights of indigenous peoples from the ills of biopiracy, but she warns that challenges lie ahead, to retain strong language in the final text. (Third World Network)

Managing World Water (June 3, 2009)

A water crisis is threatening the world. Millions of people have no access to safe drinking water and suffer from water-born diseases. The author of this article criticizes the principal policy-making venue, the World Water Forum, with its pro-privatization stand. Privatization turns water into a commodity and abolishes water as a human right. Without public control, poor people will not have access to clean water and sanitation. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Integrated Solutions to the Water, Agriculture and Climate Crises (March 2009)

This report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) draws attention to the interrelatedness of global warming, world hunger and the depletion of natural resources. These multiple crises demand a shift from the dominant model of industrial agricultural production, towards more sustainable, small-scale farming practices. The report examines how industrial agriculture damages the environment through massive water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and soil degradation. Small-scale producers suffer the most, with women and children bearing a disproportionate burden. IATP recommends that governments put agriculture at the center of an integrated policy response and invest in more carbon efficient systems, which conserve water and address the concerns of small-holder farmers. (IATP)


Our Water Commons: Towards a New Freshwater Narrative (November 17, 2008)

By the year 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will face water scarcity. This report proposes a fine on corporations, which exploit water for profit and pollute on foreign soil. The revenue from these penalties could go towards a fund to pay for improved innovation in waste water restoration and conserving water for the future. (Council of Canadians)

Needed, a Paradigm Shift (October 28, 2008)

Since the 1990s, many countries have handed over water management to private companies. Water became a commodity instead of a public good, leaving millions of poor people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation. And as water resources dwindle, conflicts over water intensify. In Bolivia, South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines and Indonesia violent struggles have broken out against companies seeking to privatize water. (Hindu)

Drinking at the Public Fountain: The New Corporate Threat to Our Water Supplies (September 29, 2008)

This article argues that the collapsing global economy causes a new wave of privatization of water. In their pursuit of profit multinational corporations want customers to use extra water and pay more for it. This caused people in communities to campaign to the water supply to return to public ownership.(TomDispatch)

Why the Oil Industry Benefits from Bottled Water Sales (June 26, 2008)

The world's largest oil companies – Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and British Petroleum – have close ties to the bottled water industry. The oil companies supply the bottled water industry with oil-based plastics that release large amounts of toxic pollutants during production. Bottled water companies claim that their products are healthy and clean, but the connection between the oil and water industry reveals the negative environmental impact of bottled water. (AlterNet)

Climate Change Deepening World Water Crisis (March 19, 2008)

This article reports on the growing water crisis. One billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion are lacking safe sanitation. Experts say the crisis is not due to an outright lack of water, but rather a "chronic lack of funding and inadequate understanding of the need for sanitation and good hygiene at the local level." Climate change will only worsen the problem. In addition, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warns that water shortages will drive future conflicts. (Inter Press Service)



A Global Public Goods Approach to a Currency Transaction Tax (October 2007)

This paper by Hans Morten Haugen was presented at a conference organized by the Halifax Initiative. It addresses a Currency Transaction Tax as a means to provide public goods, financial stability, justice and equity. (ATTAC)

Troubled Waters (June 4, 2007)

"Decades of mismanagement and climate change" are causing rivers in Africa and Asia to slowly dry up, threatening drought and increased conflict over natural resources in already vulnerable areas. Although nonprofit organizations and ecoconscious corporations have developed a multitude of simple and inexpensive ways to purify water, this Newsweek article reports that wealthy Western countries will likely "only really start to worry about the water when it isn't there." (Newsweek)

Is Water the Next Oil? (May 31, 2007)

With over 1.5 billion people worldwide facing severe water shortages due to global warming and poor resource management, this YaleGlobal article argues that the world can no longer take freshwater for granted. Comparing water with oil, the author warns that conflicts over the rapidly diminishing supply of potable water threaten to "make the oil crisis seem like the trailer of some horrible disaster movie." (YaleGlobal)

Going Public Can Solve the Global Water Crisis (March 19, 2007)

In a report featuring "water experts" from Brazil, Cambodia, India and Uganda, the World Development Movement (WDM) argues that public water provision is key to "tackling the global water crisis" and promoting development. Citing greater efficiency and community participation as benefits of "going public," WDM calls for more international aid money to support "public utility reform." (WDM)

Coping With Scarce Water in the Middle East and North Africa (March 11, 2007)

Arguing that water management requires the participation of all parts of society, this World Bank report on water usage in the Middle East and North Africa calls on individuals, communities and governments to "scale up" initiatives to prevent water shortages. In this region, which already suffers from severe water scarcity, expanding population and climate change threaten to halve the amount of water available per person by 2050. Unfortunately, the World Bank's "solution" – that the region should concentrate on cash crops and expand trade with Europe – seems unlikely to have any effect on the water scarcity problem. (World Bank)

Water Prices Rising Worldwide (March 7, 2007)

Although global shortages are driving up the market value of water, government subsidies – especially in wealthy Western countries such as the US – have kept consumer prices artificially low. This Earth Policy Institute article argues that allowing the cost of water to more accurately reflect its "value and scarcity" would stimulate more efficient management and conservation of the "life-sustaining resource." (Earth Policy Institute)



Africans Are Already Facing Climate Change (November 6, 2006)

As the 2006 United Nations Climate Change Conference commences in Nairobi, the Christian Science Monitor reports on the findings of a September 2006 UN report on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Africa. The report finds rising sea levels could inundate 30 percent of Africa's coastal infrastructure, while 25-40 percent of the continent's natural habitat could be lost by 2085. According to the article, "climate change is a present reality for many Africans," as a tight link exists between Africa's many violent conflicts – often viewed by the West as stemming from ethnic or religious differences – and the increasing climate-induced scarcity of water resources. (Christian Science Monitor)

War Climates (October 23, 2006)

In this TomPaine opinion piece Jeffrey Sachs makes a clear connection between climate-induced drought since the 1980s in Darfur, extreme poverty, and the present conflict in the region. Sachs argues that "crises that are fundamentally ecological in nature are managed by outdated strategies of war and diplomacy." Climate change will increasingly pose security threats across the world, as it causes or exacerbates huge ecological challenges, among them the looming worldwide water crisis. Arguing for instance that "Darfur needs a water strategy more than a military strategy," Sachs urges the worlds' governments to focus their resources to such underlying challenges, and suggests that all governments establish ministries of sustainable development. (TomPaine)

The Freshwater Boom Is Over. Our Rivers Are Starting to Run Dry (October 10, 2006)

With water tables falling, rivers drying out and salt pollution of groundwater rising across the world, global fresh water resources become increasingly scarce. In this Guardian article, George Monbiot cites results from a British Met Office study showing that climate change will significantly increase the severity and duration of droughts by 2100. He warns that the ensuing exacerbation of water scarcity will cause a global food deficit entailing "almost unimaginable future misery." With no viable adaptation alternatives, "averting this catastrophe" of global drying, requires a 60 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030, Monbiot argues. (Guardian)

A Third of the World Population Faces Water Scarcity Today (August 21, 2006)

At the August 2006 World Water Week in Stockholm, researchers presented initial findings from the "Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture" carried out by 700 experts over five years. In 2000, researchers had predicted that water scarcity would affect one third of the world's population by 2025. The study finds that this occurred already in 2005. Furthermore, the study argues that the extensive use of water in agriculture bears much of the responsibility for the world's water crisis, and that the key to resolving it lies in increasing agricultural "water productivity," especially in poor countries (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and World Water Week)

Rich Countries, Poor Water (August 16, 2006)

While the world's looming water crisis mostly affects people living in poor countries, this World Wildlife Fund report highlights the rapidly deteriorating state of water resources in many wealthy nations. In addition, as consumers of goods produced in poor countries, wealthy nations bear responsibility for contaminating and using up poor country water resources. The report identifies key issues of bad water resource management and stresses the importance of wealthy nations taking action. (World Wildlife Fund)

Death of the World's Rivers (March 12, 2006)

The Independent warns that half of the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted or polluted. According to the triennial World Water Development Report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), "we have hugely changed the natural order of rivers worldwide." With 45,000 big dams blocking the free flow of rivers and global warming causing extensive droughts, the access to water increasingly becomes a privilege of the rich. (World Water Development)

Pipe Dreams: The Failure of the Private Sector to Invest in Water Services in Developing Countries (March 2006)

This Public Services International and World Development Movement report critiques the Western demand for privatization of water services. The Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water is hindered by the objectives of private companies. Governments and international donors could better accomplish their goals if they concentrated on installing infrastructure through the public sector. (Public Services International and World Development Movement)

Public Water for All: The Role of Public-Public Partnerships (March 2006)

Privatization of water reserves and facilities impairs poor peoples' access to water in many parts of the world. But, public cooperation through Public-Public Partnership (PUP), promises improvements of poor countries' water supply systems. With the fourth World Water Forum in March 2006, this report describes the different forms of PUP, illustrating some cases in poor countries. Furthermore, the report encourages citizen participation in the governing bodies of PUPs to ensure their positive impact on the ground. (Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory)

Press Release: Growth Prospects Are Strong, but Social, Environmental Pressures from Globalization Need More Attention (December 13, 2006)

Under the "central scenario" of the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects 2007 world GDP will roughly double over the 2005-2030 period with developing country exports accounting for a significant share of the increase. While this growth could halve the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2030, the report also acknowledges that growing income inequalities and global warming could "jeopardize long-term progress." Along with reducing barriers to trade, the report calls for stronger international institutions to tackle the stresses on the 'global commons.' At the national level the Bank calls for government investments in education and infrastructure "to ensure that the poor are incorporated into the growth process." (World Bank)

Meeting Global Challenges: International Cooperation in the National Interest (2006)

In this report, the International Task Force on Global Public Goods explains the concept and importance of global public goods, and makes suggestions for improving their provision. Areas of focus include preventing the emergence and spread of infectious disease, tackling climate change, and increasing international financial stability. The task force proposes modest reforms of international institutions, but it sees change taking place within the framework of the existing economic and political power arrangements. (International Task Force on Global Public Goods)


Water Privatization in Latin America (October 18, 2005)

Transnational corporations continue privatizing water supplies, particularly in Latin America. To camouflage their intentions, they use words such as "decentralization," "civil society participation" and "sustainable development." The First People's Workshop in Defense of Water gathered in Mexico City to prevent corporations from profiting from this universal natural resource and to defend the right to water for everyone. (International Relations Center Americas Program)

Blocking the Wave of Privatisation of Water (September 23, 2005)

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's policies of privatization restrict public access to water, a resource indispensable to life. The French foundation "France Libertés" toured through South America to promote the idea of water as a social, rather than economic good. That idea inspired a constitutional reform in Uruguay which defines access to water as a fundamental human right. (Inter Press Service)

Filipino Water Activists Challenge UN to Denounce Privatization (September 13, 2005)

Water activists in the Philippines denounce the "neoliberal capture" of the Millennium Development Goals, maintaining that rich countries have not done enough to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Therefore, the International Financial Institutions should fundamentally change the water privatization policies they impose on countries. This article urges the UN to publicly condemn neoliberal policies and to rethink the MDGs to promote people's right to clean and affordable water. (Water for the People Network)

A UN Treaty on the Human Right to Water? (September 7, 2005)

The right to water plays a key role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. According to UN figures, by 2015, 1.8 billion people will not have access to water. The World Bank's privatization strategy has failed to ensure poor people's access to water. This article argues that the international community should sign an international treaty to protect the human right to water. (Inter Press Service)

India: Everything Gets Worse With Coca-Cola (August 22, 2005)

Pollution control authorities, political parties and international NGOs have become involved in the battle between a small Indian community and the Coca Cola corporation. Since 2001, the Atlanta based company has contaminated deep water aquifers through its $25 million bottling plant in the Plachimada village. Today, this issue is a symbol of global and powerful resistance against transnational corporations in defense of water rights. (Inter Press Service)

Private Sector Still Eyeing to Own Every Drop (March 22, 2005)

International financial institutions and lobby groups still push for privatization of water resources across Asia, even though results of privatization schemes have so far been less than encouraging. Privatized water operations have diverted resources from rural areas to urban centers and consumer tariffs have soared. In addition, publicly managed water utilities have continuously outperformed private companies in efficiency. (Inter Press Service)

Not a Drop to Drink (February 25, 2005)

The struggle against water privatization continues in Bolivia. In 1997, the World Bank forced the country to privatize its water resources, resulting in violent protest and the deaths of 34 demonstrators. Today, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) poses a new threat to Bolivia's natural resources - under FTAA's investor-state provision, corporations can sue states if they feel they have lost out on an investment opportunity. American Prospect reports that as global freshwater resources become scarcer, trade agreements are encroaching on the dwindling reserve, turning a once immeasurable resource into a limited commodity to be "taken by force." (American Prospect)

Latin America Fails to Deliver on Basic Needs (February 22, 2005)

After angry demonstrators forced many Latin American countries to terminate their contracts with multinational utility companies, governments should now continue providing these vital services to citizens. But without foreign assistance, this might prove an impossible task for countries that are already struggling with debt. (New York Times)

The Politics of Water in Bolivia (January 28, 2005)

Exactly five years after popular protests against water privatization in Cochabamba, Bolivia, new revolts force the government to cancel a privatization deal with French water giant Suez. Continuing demonstrations send a strong message to the World Bank, the organization that made privatization an explicit condition of aid. (The Nation)

Water Justice for All (January 2005)

Across the globe, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and multinational corporations are pushing poor countries to privatize their water resources. This Friends of the Earth report provides a critical analysis on the ecological and social effects of water privatization in various countries. (Friends of the Earth)


The Rains Do Not Fall on One Person's Roof (August 26, 2004)

"Water is a human right and a public good," states Rudolf Amenga-Etego, founder of the National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water. In an interview with Pambazuka News, he criticizes the international financial institutions' push for privatization and argues that privatization serves the interests of unaccountable multinational corporations rather than creating an engine of growth. (Pambazuka News)

The Struggle for Latin America's Water (July 2004)

Though Latin America has a very high level of water per capita, pollution, salination, and poor management have made the region "water poor," with millions of people living without access to potable water. This article reviews cases to show "how governments, the international financial institutions and private water companies work in concert" to commodify water and privatize its distribution, "with little regard for public well-being." (North American Congress on Latin America)

A Treasure of the Andes, Ancient Demons Included (July 18, 2004)

The discovery of natural gas in Bolivia has polarized public opinion. Many indigenous groups and activists, remembering the exploitation and unequal distribution of benefits that came from previous natural resource discoveries, are fighting against government plans to contract with transnational corporations to export the gas. Government officials argue that in past failures, the problem was not exportation itself, but corruption within the Bolivian government. (New York Times)

The New Economy of Water (July 14, 2004)

Water has historically been considered a "public good," however, in recent years governments and businesses have begun treating it as an "economic good," promoting privatization in both poor and rich countries. According to this article, though privatization is functioning in some rich countries, it creates a slew of problems in poor countries, where fair contracts are harder to negotiate and people are more desperate. (Public Broadcast Service)

Unions Fight Privatisation (March 17, 2004)

Thai workers oppose the governments' plan to privatize all state-owned enterprises including water and electricity. Thai unions demand that all privatization plans be "scrapped" and public hearings precede any future privatization proposals by the government. (Green Left Weekly)

Who Owns the Sky? Reviving the Commons (February 27, 2004)

This article asserts that we need to assign legal rights to our global commons to safeguard their future. The article is critical of the mismanagement of public resources by some governments, particularly the Bush administration that has provided corporate contributors with the most extensive privatization and deregulation in US history. (In These Times)


Archived Articles


Links and Resources


UNDP's Global Public Goods Website

UNDP's Office of Development Studies

UNDP's Office of Development Studies, "Providing Global Public Goods"

The Water Remunicipalisation Tracker

Communities are insisting that multinationals return water services to public management. The Water Remunicipalisation Tracker displays cities, regions and countries that have rolled back privatization and secured public water for all that need it.

The International Task Force on Global Public Goods

The International Task Force on Global Public Goods seeks to assess and prioritize international public goods, global and regional, and make recommendations to policy makers and other stakeholders on how to improve and expand their provision.

The Global Network on Global Public Goods

The Global Network on Global Public Goods (gpgNet) provides policymakers, diplomats, civil society, and the private sector with information and resources concerning the theory, policy design and practice of providing global public goods.

Global Public Goods - Stakeholder Forum's Earth Summit 2002

The International Conference on Financing for Development

The Institute of Development Studies



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.