Aconcerted push is underway in South America that could see one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water soon fall into the hands of transnational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Nestle. According to reports, talks to privatize the Guarani Aquifer – a vast subterranean water reserve lying beneath Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – have already reached an advanced stage. The deal would grant a consortium of U.S. and Europe-based conglomerates exclusive rights to the aquifer that would last over 100 years.
Named after the Guarani indigenous people, the Guarani Aquifer is the world’s second largest underground water reserve and is estimated to be capable of sustainably providing the world’s population with drinking water for up to 200 years. Environmental groups, social movements, and land defenders warn that the exploitation of the freshwater reserve could see the 460,000-square mile (1.2 million sq. km.) reservoir sacrificed for the short-term profits of agribusiness, energy, and food-and-drink giants.
For global behemoths like U.S.-based Coca-Cola and Swiss Nestle, the extraction and sale of drinking water – a finite resource and a basic necessity for all living beings – is especially lucrative. Water intended for public use is enriched with various minerals or combined with cheap sweeteners and other ingredients before being bottled and sold at a massive profit.
In Brazil, intense lobbying has been underway since at least 2016 to tap into the aquifer. These efforts fell under the spotlight late last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where private talks were reported between Brazil’s President Michel Temer and a range of top executives with interests in the aquifer, including Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris.
As leading Brazilian water-rights activist Franklin Frederick noted in Brasil de Fato, these companies belong to the 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG), a transnational consortium that includes AB Inbev, Coca-Cola, Dow, Nestle and PepsiCo. 2030WRG bills itself as “a unique public-private-civil society collaboration” and hides its intention to privatize developing nations’ water supplies by claiming to “facilitate open, trust-based dialogue processes to drive action on water resources reform in water-stressed countries in developing economies” and “close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030.”
According to corporate accountability advocates, in truth the group is “an unmistakably activist campaign by the private water industry to gain funding and credibility for a radical power grab.”
In the future, wars will not be fought over oil, they will be fought over water.
As a matter of fact, you already see this all over Asia, where the allocation of river water and possession of land in the Himalayas mountains where there are vast glaciers that feed river systems, are hotly contested with Pakistan and China on 1 side of the battle and India on the other.
Water, that is to say the allocation of water from the Indus River System is the natural resource and main source of conflict that India and Pakistan, 2 nuclear armed powers, have had for the last 70 years and its only going to worst with river water dwindling around the world.
This only makes what Nestle and Coke are doing in impoverished nations around the world with corrupt governments that much more fucked up.
We are entering a dystopian Mad Max-like future with respect to water.
All of the water is going to be in the hands of a few multinational conglomerates and the average person will be stuck paying sky high rates for water because after we do need it to live and everything.
What we are witnessing here is the pillaging of groundwater that belongs to the people of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, is being stolen by corrupt governments and simply being auctioned off to the highest bidders, Nestle and Coke.
I am not looking forward to a future of water rationing and water scarcity just so the stock of Nestle and Coke continues to increase in perpetuity.