Is Water a Human Right?
Last Updated on March 16, 2020 by Marc-Antoni
Blue Gold (2008)
Buying up The Rights to Life
This documentary provides a strong reminder of the absolute importance of water to life, and raises questions regarding the legality of corporate ownership (check out The Corporation) over water rights that should belong to citizens and locals.
Undeniably, water has become big business and has come to exert equally great social and environmental pressures (see Bottled Life). The film explores a sampling of these.
Making it Rain for Corporations
According to The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA),
“In 2015 the total volume of bottled water consumed in the United States was 11.7 billion gallons, a 7.6% increase from 2014. That translates into an average of 36.3 gallons per person…”
They go on to say that, “consumers see bottled water as a healthy alternative to other packaged beverages. Consistent with this view, sales revenues for the U.S. bottled water market in 2015 were $14.2 billion in wholesale dollars, a 8.7% increase over the previous year.”
These numbers are just from the USA alone! Globally, bottled water, and corresponding water rights, take on a whole new dimension, as countries with weaker governments, more susceptible to foreign financial backers are influenced to give up this precious resource, to the detriment of those that live there.
Not only does the water bottle industry generate tremendous waste (see Understanding Water Consumption), it also impacts local water supplies. It vies private companies against public interest.
For instance, “while Flint (Michigan, USA) drinks poison, Nestlé is pumping 200 gallons of fresh water out of Michigan every minute,” (actions.sumofus.org).
Now, I Ain’t Saying They’s a Gold Digger…
The doc offers examples of where local governments are in fact encouraged to sell/export, despite the significant need of the native population, and armed forces are then sent in if the locals are unhappy with this arrangement. Hopefully this film will help the viewer reflect on this serious issues, and help generate further discussion over the rightful ownership of water rights.