Don’t Drink to This
Leaders of the Group of Eight nations — meeting for their annual summit in Evian, France, home of the original chichi bottled water — agreed yesterday to throw their weight behind a plan intended to bring clean drinking water to at least half of the 1.2 billion people who lack it by 2015. Aid groups and activists scoffed at the plan, noting that it lacks specifics and that the G8 nations’ commitments are poorly defined. Activists are particularly unhappy about the plan’s support for the privatization of water supplies. Friends of the Earth derided the plan as “undrinkable,” arguing that clean water and proper sanitation are basic rights “that should not be regulated by the invisible hands of the free market and the interests of multinationals, but decided democratically by the people of each country.” The G8 summit attracted thousands of anti-globalization protesters to nearby Swiss towns, a number of whom voiced their opposition to privatization and corporatization of water systems. Police beat protesters back with — what else? — a water cannon.