Water is the focus of a wide-ranging international collaboration at Blue Mountain Center in upstate New York May 8-11, organized by On the Commons co-founder Harriet Barlow. This event launches Water for All—an effort tapping the ideas of activists, researchers and scholars from many sectors for exchanging ideas about how to better manage this priceless resource.
Conceived as a multi-year, multi-venue conversation, Water for All will take into account the pressing dynamics of climate change and water privatization, and threats of militarization of this resource on a scale that could mirror the history of oil. Several white papers will be presented—one on the potential of the commons as an organizing principle for water issues, and another cataloging elements already in our hands (legal, structural, political) that could become a “toolbox of possibilities” for work on water issues. At the May meeting, this group will map out the conversational process as a whole, including the refining of objectives, creating a timetable, adding participants and considering the prospect of a major global conference in 2009 analyzing the management of water as a commons.