More than two billion people across the world have no access to sanitation facilities and clean water. (Global population c.7billion) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned representatives that the world would not achieve the Millenium Development Goals set for 2015, and that "It is not acceptable that poor slum-dwellers pay five or even 10 times as much for their water as wealthy residents of the same areas of the same cities," and added: "Let us be clear: a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free."
Bolivians famously rebelled against water privatisation by US corporation Bectal in 2000 and Morales lacks no clarity on the subject: "Water is a basic public need that must not be managed by private interests, it should be available to all the people," and challenging the notion that water management by private corporations will accelerate the process of development he said "Without water, there can be no food, no life," he said, "Competition of any sort cannot resolve the issue of poverty." He also critisised 'developed' countries for failing to adopt a rights approach for mother earth and linked the struggle for environmental and social justice "If we don't respect the rights of Mother Earth, we cannot respect human rights,"
The U.S. delegate also supported the view that access to water is a universal human right, however avoided discussing the role of the private sector in the supply and distribution of drinking water. "The U.S. is committed to solving the world's water problems," he said.
Kate Fried of the Water and Food Watch supported Morales's views "Water is a human right. We believe that corporations cannot provide better service to consumers," and further that "Water service can be provided more effectively by public-public partnership." Morales said simply "Water is life. Water is humanity. How could it be part of private business?"
See the brilliant film Even the Rain to learn more of the Bolivian uprising against US water company Bectal.