Media Release – Rowdy Activists Offer Noise But Not Solutions To World’s Water Woes

Press Release, Water, Frontier Centre

The Frontier Centre and International Policy Network release two new studies on privately-delivered water water:

  • Better for the poor
  • Better for keeping water infrastructure up-to-date
  • LONDON/WINNIPEG– In last week’s Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, anti-private water activists created violent protests in an attempt to divert attention from the real issue– the one billion people around the world who do not have clean drinking water.

    David Seymour, Saskatchewan Director for Canada’s Frontier Centre points out:

    The vast majority of the management of the world’s waterworks are in government hands, where political decisions are made to ignore necessary infrastructure upgrades. The result is that health, and especially the health of the poor, suffers. Government ownership is most often the problem, not the solution, on water quality issues.

    Kendra Okonski, International Policy Network’s Research Fellow and editor of The Water Revolution, said of the protestors:

    Whether it’s Tokyo, Mexico City or Istanbul, a few global activists show up like clockwork at the World Water Forum to protest and make noise. Unlike the bona fide participants in the forum, they offer few – if any – concrete solutions to real water problems. In fact, these activists harm the world’s one billion people who lack clean water and the 2.6 billion without sewerage.

    Caroline Boin, IPN Research Fellow, explained that the status quo with water is harmful and unsustainable:

    The activists attack the World Bank, multinationals and the very notion of profit. But less than five percent of global water management today is private. The real culprits are governments who mismanage and misallocate water to farmers and other special interests, as well as the politically connected, in poor countries. Not only does this harm the poor, it also harms the environment by encouraging waste.

    Governments, aided by activists, are perpetuating thirst.

    To coincide with the World Water Forum last week, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and International Policy Network have published two new studies on water management.

    The first study examines oft-repeated claims about a failure of private water provision in Cochabamba, Bolivia, when local protestors threw out a water consortium. It goes beyond hyperbole to examine the real causes of the failure – including local corruption and vested interests.

    Download a free copy of The Cochabamba “Water War”:An Anti-Privatisation Poster Child? here:

    The second study reviews private water management in Chile. It shows how Chile adopted a comprehensive approach to water reform, creating a far more sustainable use of water, nearly universal water connection, and a dramatic improvement in sewage treatment in a very short time.

    Download a free copy of Chile: A Dynamic Water Market here:

    Media contact in Canada:

    David Seymour
    Saskatchewan Director, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
    (306) 352-2915


    International Policy Network ( is a global think tank based in London, and is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation. IPN runs campaigns seeking to educate the public about the importance of markets and market institutions in the context of global policies relating to development, trade, health, the environment.

    The Frontier centre for Public Policy (

    To coincide with the World Water Forum, IPN has published two new papers about water provision and management, in partnership with 18 other not-for-profit organisations including the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.