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The “Commodification” of water

Manahel Thabet

The “Commodification” of water

The year 2020 refuses to end peacefully. After all the tragedies that have decimated humanity, here comes more. Days ago, for the first time in the world, the establishment of the world’s first market for water futures contracts was announced, and this may lead to speculation by financiers who may trade water as if it were a commodity like oil and gold.

Water is a fundamental right, just like air, and it belongs to everyone. It is a public good. It is closely related to human life and livelihoods, and it is an essential component of public health. It has been so always, and it will remain so.

When water is announced as a commodity for trading in the global stock market and, as is happening now, treated as gold, oil and other commodities that are traded on Wall Street’s financial market, within years, the price of water may rise beyond that of oil in some areas. Most countries and all the west will depend on power plants that depend on the fusion of corn (FT) as a source of energy. This will be followed by the demand for oil decreasing to a degree that affects its prices, and as a result, there will be a noticeable rise in the price of water.

The danger is that only agricultural establishments and large industrial facilities will be able to buy water, which will lead to the marginalization of the weak economic sector, such as small farmers. This doubles the hardship of the lower classes in such sectors, and increases the injustice that they face as a result, similar to the wave of “automation” and “adaptation” that imposed a forced exclusion of the workforce in these sectors which replaced humans with machines.

According to a special United Nations report, water is already under severe threat from the planet’s growing population, increasing demand, and dangerous pollution from agriculture and the mining industry. In the context of the exacerbation of the impact of climate change, the report stresses that water is a vital resource for the economy. However, water contains a set of vital values for societies, which the market fails to realize.

These vital values that the market does not realize have necessitated the ongoing global discussions about the environmental, social and cultural values of water, in conjunction with the news indicating that it will be traded on the futures market on “Wall Street” stressing that water is a basic human right.

The disaster that awaits is that countries with rivers and their people who depend on agriculture industry for their livelihoods will end up having to pay for water.

This situation in turn puts the world before the need to reconsider and redefine the seventeen sustainable development goals, both because of the Corona pandemic that befell the world, and to face new challenges, including the challenge of commodifying water that adds up to the exacerbation of climate change impact.

It can be said that the conflict in human history has always been constant, and the human culture, with its renewed ways of life, is changing. This is an obvious fact. Man used to establish his civilization always around water and close to its origins, declaring long wars for that privilege. In spite of having achieved it, we are now returning to square one, announcing the beginnings of a new era – an era of conflict and water wars.

Author : Manahel Thabet
Published December 18, 2020
Al Bayan Newspaper