May 15, 2007 – Over 134 groups from 48 countries today called on donor governments to abandon support for a highly controversial agency of the World Bank focused on privatization called the ‘Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility’ (PPIAF).
134 groups urge rich countries to pull the plug on world bank’s push for water privatization
THE HAGUE (THE NETHERLANDS), MAY 15, 2007 – Over 134 groups from 48 countries today called on donor governments to abandon support for a highly controversial agency of the World Bank focused on privatisation called the `Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility’ (PPIAF).
The call comes a week ahead of a May 23 meeting of the 13 donors to the PPIAF. In an open letter, groups argue that PPIAF’s bias towards private sector `solutions’ to water access represents a poor use of aid money.
Earlier this year, the Norwegian government stated that it will not support PPIAF in the future as it no longer believes it is increasing access to water for the poor.
In the letter to PPIAF’s remaining donors, signed by civil society groups and trade unions from around the world, including poor countries where PPIAF has funded water privatisation processes, campaigners say: “The evidence shows that the private sector has shown a great reluctance to commit finance to connecting the poorest people to clean, affordable water…. Our conclusion is that aid could be better spent and we ask donors to withdraw this funding accordingly.”
Elías Dias Peña of Friends of the Earth in Paraguay says, “In Paraguay, despite public protest and a parliamentary vote against it, water privatisation is still pushed by the PPIAF, the International Monetary Fund and powerful private companies. But opposition remains strong. A new law on water developed by civil society groups and members of Parliament declares water a property of the state and access to water a fundamental human right. The law is awaiting its final vote in the Paraguayan chamber of deputies right now.”
Denied permission to observe PPIAF’s annual meeting, campaigners are organising a forum in The Hague on 22 May to discuss PPIAF, its role within the World Bank and progressive alternatives in the area of water.
On PPIAF’s agenda next week is a proposal to extend its remit further and give the controversial agency a stronger role in World Bank water policies. Activists believe that donors should reject this extension and instead create a wholly new fund to support water utilities in the global south based on `public-public partnerships’.
They argue that PPIAF undermines the right of poor countries to decide how to run their public services. PPIAF has funded projects in many poor countries where international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have attached water privatisation conditions to loans, debt relief or aid.
Campaigners are particularly critical of PPIAF’s funding for `consensus-building’ projects which try to persuade stakeholders in developing countries to accept water privatisation.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Longgena Ginting, Friends of the Earth International’s Financial Institutions campaign coordinator: by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Tel: +31-6-42811585 (Dutch mobile).
Elías Dias Peña, environment campaigner of Friends of the Earth Paraguay will be in the Netherlands on May 21-25. Tel: +31-6-42811585 (Dutch mobile only May 21-25). Email: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Olivier Hoedeman, Campaign Coordinator at the `Co5rporate Europe Observatory’. Tel: +31-6-45460007.(Dutch mobile) or email email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Wednesday 23 May there will be a stunt/ photo opportunity at 10am at the Carlton Beach Hotel, Gevers Deynootweg, Scheveningen, The Netherlands, outside PPIAF’s official annual meeting.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) is housed within the World Bank and it funds “technical assistance on strategies and measures [governments] can use to tap the full potential of public-private partnerships in infrastructure”. It also disseminates information about “best practice” in public-private partnerships. PPIAF works in a range of sectors including transport, telecommunications and water.
 In a report published last year, campaigners found that since 1999, PPIAF has funded one or more processes aimed at developing private sector participation and / or privatisation in water and sanitation services in a total of 37 countries. In at least 16 countries, PPIAF has sought to `build consensus’ for water privatisation projects. `Building consensus’ refers to activities that promote the benefits of privatisation or particular privatisation options and/or attempt to persuade sceptical members of governments, parliaments, business, trade unions, civil society and citizens that privatisation is in their interests. In at least 18 of the countries in which PPIAF has worked on water privatisation, donors have made their support conditional on privatisation.
 PPIAF’s current donors are: Asian Development Bank, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, World Bank. The UK is the largest donor by far contributing over 50 per cent of PPIAF’s funds, an amount which totals £53 million from 1999-2008.
 In February 2007, the Norwegian government announced that it would no longer give political or financial support to PPIAF.
 The international civil society forum “Stop water privatisation – Alternatives to the PPIAF” will be held on Tuesday 22 May from 10.30am at Nieuwspoort Perscentrum, room Wandelganger I Lange Poten 10, The Hague, the Netherlands. Speaking will be campaigners from India, Malawi and Paraguay where PPIAF has funded water privatisation consultancy studies. This event will be preceded by a press conference at 09.30am at the same venue which will be an opportunity to discuss these issues.