As activists from around the globe are convening at the Rio +20 conference to protect our common resources from private interests, the Stockholm International Water Institute’s decision to award PepsiCo for its water efficiency is a cruel irony. PepsiCo has inflicted massive harm on vital community water resources around the globe. This award validates and aids that activity, further justifying PepsiCo’s PR efforts to spin itself as “green.”
This award legitimizes PepsiCo’s dubious business practices in an age of increasing water scarcity. PepsiCo has routinely depleted our groundwater resources, undertaken unsustainable intra-basin water transfers and polluted community water resources. Praising the corporation for reported water efficiency does little to reverse its damaging legacy.
PepsiCo recently touted its commitment to the human right to water. But privatizing and destroying a vital and irreplaceable resource directly undermines human rights. The company’s hollow promise won’t stop communities from fighting its control of their water.
There are some resources that simply shouldn’t be bottled, traded or sacrificed to the market, and that is especially true of water. While multinational corporations lobby for an unfair share of our natural resources, no respectable institution should award them for their greedy, destructive behavior.
Furthermore, the promotion of Pepsi through Stockholm Water Week highlights the influence of corporations within global policy spaces. Over the last decade, multinational corporations have gained tremendous access to decision-makers within UN agencies and summits, as well as through corporate-run multi-stakeholder meetings frequented by high-level government and UN officials—including Stockholm Water Week and the World Water Forum. This award to Pepsi underscores the need for international public institutions and policy spaces that defend the rights of people and nature, not ones that promote corporate interests.
We must not allow corporations to influence and benefit from the vital negotiations in Rio. Rio+20 must adopt principles for a true green economy, not a greenwashed economy that further privatizes nature for profit.
Since 1985, the Council of Canadians has brought people together to act for social, economic and environmental justice in Canada and around the world. With chapters and members across the country, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest public advocacy organization.
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.