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Protecting the World's Water

OTC launches new group to protect water for people and the planet, with websites in both English and Spanish

Our Water Commons, a new program of On the
Commons, has launched its new website, brimming with resources and practical information. The site also appears in Spanish.

Our Water Commons is dedicated to transforming the way
we think about and manage water. This life-giving
resource rightfully belongs to all of humanity as
well as animals and the Earth itself and the group aims to deepen understanding
of commons principles as a framework to guide how
water is managed throughout the world.

A number of other organizations are involved with
OWC, including the Vermont Law School, the Blue
Planet Project, the Council of Canadians, and India’s
Centre for Human Rights and Law.

The new group was highly visible at both the World Water
Forum and the People’s Water Forum in Istanbul last April, working with progressive governments
to advance the idea of water as a human right and a
commons, which gained positive press internationally.

Two definitive reports have been published in
both English and Spanish:

• “Our Water Commons” by best-selling author and former
UN water advisor Maude Barlow, which explains
the core principles of the water commons and examines
what’s at stake for all of us.

• “Local Control and Management of Our Water Commons:
Stories of Rising to the Challenge” a compilation
of 21 inspiring case studies of people around the
world who have stood up for the idea that water belongs
to us all.

OWC sponsored a seminal meeting of legal scholars and
activists at the Wingspread Center in Wisconsin to
identify new legal tools and governance structures
to protect the water commons. The group works
closely with the African Water Network and their
Latin American counterpart, Red Vida, and globally with the Reclaiming Public Water Network to support
new initiatives in water commons management, and
this year will collaborate with the Indian Institute of
Technology on a water management course for engineers
and local governments” which can be adapted
for lay audiences worldwide.

For 2010, Our Water Commons seeks to educate
and mobilize local governments, public interest
lawyers, water system operators and NGOs in both
the developed and developing world about the necessity
of water being treated as a commons. Tools
to accomplish this include convening strategic meetings,
training courses, applied research, and popular
education materials disseminated via new and traditional
media. OTC and OWC are also collaborating
with the Grassroots Policy Project in Milwaukee
to spark awareness of the water commons in policy
decisions.