LACUSL Speaker Series: Oriol Mirosa

Oriol Mirosa, Sociology and Global Studies, UW-Milwaukee
“The Global Commodification of Water and the Search for Alternatives in Bolivia”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 3:30pm
American Geographical Society Library (UWM Libraries, Third floor)

In the last three decades, the world has seen a remarkable shift in water management. Until the 1970s, water was mostly considered a citizen right delivered by governments at an affordable price in order to guarantee access for all people. By the late 1990s, however, water was widely regarded as an economic good, a commodity for which the full cost of provision needs to be paid by the users and in whose delivery the for-profit private sector plays an important role. This change in orientation was facilitated by a new system of governance for the global water sector that was very successful in presenting it as the outcome of a widespread consensus. The consequences of this shift, however, were negative for vulnerable populations all over the world, who saw how access to water became unaffordable at the same time that transnational corporations made a profit from selling water. This presentation will explore the process through which water became commodified, how the new global system of governance for the water sector operates, and how this process played out in Bolivia, where a progressive government has been searching for an alternative and more equitable form of water management.