"Another water management is possible," read the poster at the Alternative Water Forum on Thursday. Organized to coincide with the 5th World Water Forum, the Alternative Water Forum creates a counterview for all the policies on water.
Organized by various non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, and political parties, the alternative forum claims that water cannot be privatized and that it is everyone’s right to access water.
The alternative forum will take place March 20 to 22 at Bilgi Univeristy’s Santralistanbul Campus, on the opposite shore from the Sütlüce Culture and Congress Center, which will host the World Water Forum.
To judge the many incorrect politics on water there will be an "Istanbul Water Court" during the alternative forum. The court will be held by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation and Latin America Water Court Organization. The jury will be seven people and the "court" will investigate the dams that are to be built in Yusufeli, Hasankeyf and Munzur. The court will also examine the social and environmental corruption in Mexico and the planned dam project on Brazil’s Madeira River.
Talking on behalf of all the participants, musician Birol Topaloğlu said the 5th World Water Forum is far from including the NGO’s within the forum and there were a few NGO’s picked and invited. Topaloğlu said many of the foreign NGOs participating in the 5th World Water Forum have already been declared.
Statement of intention
"Organizing the ’Alternative Water Forum,’ we first aim to show that another water policy is possible. By offering a different perspective we will gather corporations, establishments, NGO’s, political parties and public who fights for the water issues," Topaloğlu said.
During his speech Topaloğlu revealed plans showing that General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works, or DSİ, plans to build 600 dams in Turkey. "Although it is going to create 10,000 megawatts of energy annually, they don’t take notice of the damage it will cause to nature," said Topaloğlu. "There are plans to build 50 damn on just one river near the Black Sea. The Ilısu Dam Project will leave 313 square kilometers of settlement underwater, which will also destroy the 10,000-year-old city, Hasankeyf."
"We will stand side by side with people for their benefit," said Akın Birdal, mayoral candidate for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality from the Pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP.
Birdal said that people should take note that the organizers of the 5th World Water Forum have called on each parliamentary to be a part of the water commoditizing international powers. "But water is a right and that’s why we are organizing the ’Alternative Water Forum.’"
Ufuk Uras, a deputy of the Freedom and Solidarity Party, or ÖDP, called on people to unite and defend their rights and save the future for the children. "Water is life and cannot be a part of trade life, that’s why policies should favor humans and their needs," Uras said, adding that people should participate in water related events. He said there shouldn’t be a management for some things in this world.
According to the organizers of the alternative forum, water has become just another commodity for international trade. "In Turkey people pay to buy drinking water and this is unbelievable," said Ulrike Dufner, a representative of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation.
The foundation has organized two meetings for the alternative water forum. One will be on global warming, water and drought and the other on cooperation with the River Network organization about preserving clean water.
Dufner said they invited the governments of Turkey, France and Germany to the "water court" but none responded. She said she would prefer a gathering of all sides after both forums are over. "I believe that the result might be more concrete if the two sides would discuss all the water issues. I don’t believe NGOs attending the 5th World Water Forum will change anything," Dufner said.
Ömer Madra, executive editor of independent radio station Açık Radyo, attended a pre-meeting of the Water Forum and talked about global warming and incorrect government policies on water. He said it was good to be there on the opposing side. Madra is not assisting in preparations for the Alternative Water Forum but he said he is definitely on their side. "We can make a progress if we want," he said.