Today, by resolution of the House of Representatives, Berlin became a “Blue Community” on the occasion of World Water Day 2018.
The State of Berlin thus commits to truly implement the human right to water and basic sanitation within the city, and thus to make drinking water fountains and toilets extensively available free of charge in public areas. Additional principles include maintaining the water supply as a public good, protecting Berlin’s rivers, canals and lakes, cultivating international partnerships and promoting the use of tap water instead of bottled water. The last of these points is especially appropriate for projects in schools and universities, which is why the Senate specifically highlighted educational work in the field of water in its resolution. Such work ranges from explaining the quality of our tap water compared to many bottled waters (which, tests have shown, are of inferior quality), includes the avoidance of plastic waste and extends through to explaining the water footprint, particularly with respect to water in many of the foods and goods that we import from countries of the South.
The coalition government is thus implementing what started a year ago at the suggestion of the Berliner Wassertisch. The initiator of this project - world-renowned water activist and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, Maude Barlow - was invited, at the instigation of Dorothea Härlin, to Berlin’s House of Representatives to present the Blue Community project to an interested public. The project, which is intended to be global, was developed by the Council of Canadians, of which Maude Barlow is the Chairman. Berlin follows Bern and Paris to become the third “blue” capital in Europe. (Munich and Marburg have already been recruited in Germany).
According to Johanna Erdmann, co-founder of the Berliner Wassertisch, “the remunicipalization of the Berliner Wasserbetriebe was initiated by the “Our Water” referendum. We are delighted that our suggestion to invite Maude Barlow to the House of Representatives has resulted in a further step towards the more intentional, socially beneficial and environmentally friendly use of water - the elixir of life - in our city. We Berliners now need to supplement this idea with specific content that we should implement together.” Ulrike von Wiesenau, co-founder of the Berliner Wasserrat, welcomed the Senate’s resolution, “Water is a primary element of life and, as such, should not be a means of generating profit. It must be protected and managed as a commons. Following the remunicipalization of the Berliner Wasserbetriebe, the concept of a Blue Community necessarily entails democratization in order to fulfil the strict requirements of a blue community. In the next few months, the Berliner Wasserrat intends to present to the politicians the participatory model it has drafted.”
A message of congratulations was received from Maude Barlow in Canada immediately after the resolution: “Since the referendum and the subsequent remunicipalization of the Berliner Wasserbetriebe, I have felt a particular connection between myself and the City of Berlin and its many activists. I am delighted to see that, by becoming a Blue Community, you have taken another step towards water becoming a public good and recognition of the human right. When will you be celebrating? I would love to come to the party.”
Since last year there has been a group of stakeholders who have just been waiting for the Senate’s resolution to allow them to implement their ideas in this city under the new umbrella of the Blue Community.
Dorothea Härlin, Tel. 0162 89415,
Ulrike von Wiesenau, Tel. +49(0)1573-4077795