Maude Barlow’s keynote speech from the International Conference on Water, Megacities and Global Change, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, December 1, 2015
In early December, the world turned its attention to climate talks in Paris. At their international headquarters in Paris, UNESCO convened the Water, Megacities and Global Change conference to the address the critical threats to water from climate change, especially in the world’s megacities. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and international water expert was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony on December 1.
“How do we start to talk about the crisis of water and megacities?” Maude asks. “With a critical examination of these and other policies that favour global markets over the lives of people and the health of ecosystems. And by confronting the tyranny of the 1% with the creation of a just global economy.
We can start with a new water ethic. Rather than seeing water as a resource for profit, we need to understand that it is the essential element in all living ecosystems. All policies and practices must be planned with the preservation of water at their core. Not only do we have to reject the market model for our water future, we must put ourselves at the service of undoing what we have done to the natural world and hope it is not too late.
Our current legal systems for protecting the environment are not working because they were not designed to do so. They view nature and water as our property. We need new universal laws that respect the integrity of ecosystems and allow other species than our own to fulfil their evolutionary role on Earth.”
Maude closes with stating possibilities, “Imagine a world in which water becomes nature’s gift to teach us how to live in peace with one another and dwell more lightly on this lovely planet. It is all possible. A blue and just future is possible.”
Barlow gives testimony on water at International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris
“Displacing water from where it belongs to where we want it is a major cause of climate chaos unrecognized by many scientists and environmentalists alike. This practice is also destroying whole water systems. Over half the major rivers in China have disappeared. By destroying forests and wetlands, we destroy the lungs and kidneys of our watersheds. Since 1900, the planet has lost two thirds of its wetlands. Every minute, 36 football fields of trees are clear cut. These are crimes against the rights of nature.”
In addition to Council of Canadians, Maude Barlow serves as Executive/Board member of other earth justice organizations including the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, Food and Water Watch, International Forum on Globalization, World Future Council and Movement Rights. In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 17 books, including her latest, Blue Future: Protecting Water For People And The Planet Forever.