The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are applauding the city of Bern, Switzerland for taking a bold new step to protect water as a commons. While a growing number of municipalities in Canada have become Blue Communities, Bern is the first city outside Canada to do so.
Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow is in Bern today to deliver the certificate during a ceremony at city council. Along with the city, the University of Bern and the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirchgemeinde Bern-Johannes Church have passed their own resolutions to become Blue Communities and will be receiving certificates.
“In becoming Blue Communities, the City and University of Bern are showing leadership in Europe in asserting that water is a common heritage of humanity and of future generations as well as our own,” said Barlow in her remarks at the ceremony presenting the Blue Community certificates. “You are committing to protect the waters of Switzerland as a human right, a public trust and a not-for-profit public service. It is my fervent hope that your undertaking today will be the beginning of a European-wide movement that will one day reach across the whole world.”
Launched by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Blue Communities certification requires municipal governments to pass legislation or bylaws recognizing water as a human right and pledging to promote and protect public water and sanitation services.
“Bern is to be commended for taking this important step to protect its public water and wastewater services for its citizens,” said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “By rejecting the privatization of these vital services, the City’s public water and wastewater system will remain accountable, affordable, and there for the people of Bern for generations to come.”
The Blue Communities Project states that, “because water is central to human activity, it must be governed by principles that allow for reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment in order to preserve it for nature and future generations.”
Blue Communities in Canada so far include Thorold, Welland, Comox, Cumberland, Nanaimo, St. Catharines, Mississippi Mills, Niagara Falls, North Vancouver, Ajax, Tiny Township, Victoria, Burnaby, and Amqui.