Wednesday, 10 December 2008

UN's new water advisor calls the Global Compact “bluewashing”

At a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York, Ms. Maude Barlow said that she is critical of the participation of companies that sell bottled water in the UN Global Compact. On October 21, 2008, Ms. Barlow was named senior advisor on water issues by the President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Ms. Barlow said: "It will not surprise you to know that we have called the Global Compact bluewashing or greenwashing. But bluewashing in terms of wrapping the United Nation’s good housekeeping seal of approval around corporate behaviors that we don’t think always change." (see video

Ms. Barlow denounced so-called "water hunters" – companies that take water from aquifers and "put it in plastic and sell it all over the world". Moreover, she said she opposes bottled water and that she believes that companies like Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé cannot claim to be or become "water neutral". Ms. Barlow wants to continue to fight the bottled water industry.

In July 2007, the Global Compact launched the CEO Water Mandate. According to the Compact, "the CEO Water Mandate is a unique public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices." Nestlé, Coca Cola and PepsiCo have all endorsed the CEO Water Mandate.

At the last
working conference of the CEO Water Mandate in August 2008, the concept of water neutrality was mentioned by several endorsers. We look forward to learning how the CEO Water Mandate is going to address the issues raised by Ms. Barlow.

Inner City Press (10/12/2008).

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