The forum was organized as an alternative to the 5th World Water Forum, which took place in Istanbul over the last week. Bilgi University’s SantralIstanbul campus played host to the water dissidents for the last two days. The jam-packed forum schedule included lectures called Anti-Dam Struggles, Water Poisoned by Nationalism, Water as a Common Good and Water Management, as well as Water and Women.
The alternative forum attracted water activists who thought the emphasis on privatization and commoditization of water at the world forum was troubling. The alternative forum offered activism workshops such as "How to successfully fight large dams," and "Stop Ilısu - The Campaign against European involvement."
Freedom and Solidarity Party Istanbul Representative Ufuk Aras said water should be a universal right. "I thought that we could join the World Water Forum and express our opinions. But once we saw they deported demonstrators we decided not to join," he said, referring to the foreign NGO members who unfurled protest posters during the global forum’s opening ceremony. "We have to answer the question, ’What happens when international capital comes up against the public good?’ The answer is in the Alternative Water Forum," Aras said.
Alternative Water Forum organizer Gökşen Şahin said they felt the need for an alternative because the structure of the world forum upholds corporate interests. At the alternative forum the discussion centered on privatization of water works projects especially of "Turkish water sources and dam investments in Turkey," according to Şahin. "Water is the common good of all people on Earth. Water is the source and most basic necessity of all ecosystems. Water should play a pivotal role in understanding and tolerance between communities, genders and nations," Şahin said.