Water as a Commons. Climate, Land, Democracy

Water, as an issue, has many aspects. First, there are the hundreds of millions of men and women who lack reliable access to water and sanitation, despite decades of international programmes. There are also the increasingly dramatic episodes of drought or flooding, related to climate change but also to the deterioration of ecosystems. There are the multiple forms of commercial appropriation of water, such as the privatisation of urban services, the bottled-water industry, or the volume of water used in industrial farming for export. There are controversial infrastructure projects, such as large-scale dams. Finally, there is the question of who controls water resources, involving conflict between social groups and entire nations.

Building on work accomplished since 2009, this issue of the Passerelle collection sums up major water-related issues in a context of apparently contradictory imperatives: on the one hand, to preserve the planet’s fragile equilibrium and contain global warming; on the other, ensuring adequate sustenance and a life worthy of the name for the world’s population. In reality, as the articles collected here amply demonstrate, this contradiction exists only in the framework of the particular development models currently prevalent throughout the world. Restoring or creating a new culture and a new management for water (and, indissociably, the earth itself) could, conversely, allow us to meet ecological imperatives while at the same time ensuring a “good life”, in big cities as well as rural regions, in the north and the south, throughout our planet.
This Passerelle has three foci: the rediscovery of and respect for the close interactions between water, earth, and climate; the emerging demand for a right to water as a way of addressing the wider issues associated with this resource; and, finally, encompassing the previous points, reinventing the management of water as a common good, at once local and global.

To outline these new directions, Ritimo has partnered with France Libertés and Coordination Eau Île-de-France, two NGOs active in defending the right to water and its status as a common good, both in France and elsewhere, and which share Ritimo’s objectives of producing and disseminating information on water to support or encourage all who are involved or wish to become involved in implementing this new democratic culture of water.

Ritimo, the Publisher
The organisation Ritimo is in charge of Coredem and of publishing the Passerelle Collection.
Ritimo is a network for information and documentation on international solidarity and sustainable development. In 90 locations throughout France, Ritimo opens public information centres on global issues, organises civil society campaigns and develops awareness-raising and training sessions. Ritimo is actively involved in the production and dissemination of plural and critical information, by means of its website.

Olivier Petitjean
Olivier Petitjean is a journalist writing for the news website Basta! (bastamag.net) and the Multinationals Observatory (multinationales.org). With Ritimo, he participated in the creation of Partage des eaux, a website dedicated to the social, environmental and political issues around water across the world.