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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Aquafed -- the International Federation of Private Water Operators -- is "the voice of the private water industry vis-Ã -vis international organisations."
The organization, created in 2005, represents the interests of "over 300 private water service providers operating in 40 countries worldwide" before international bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank, European Investment Bank, and others. AquaFed is also a "proud sponsor of UN-Water," World Water Day, and World Water Week.  AquaFed's offices are located directly opposite the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels, making it ideal for lobbying the European Union 
In October 2009, AquaFed submitted a "contribution" to the work of the Office of the UN Commissioner on Human Rights regarding the Right to Water. Essentially, AquaFed lobbied the UNCHR to suggest that Nation-States uphold private water contracts. According to AquaFed's website, the key finding of this "contribution" was that: "The Bilateral Investment Treaty obligations of a State to protect the investment of foreign shareholders of a local water operator, are compatible with and beneficial to the needs of this State to respect, protect and fulfill the Right to Water in its national territory.”
AquaFed includes "indirect" membership through national private water associations, "direct" membership as a company member, and membership via subsidiaries of the above.  Company members include United Water Inc (USA), Veolia Water, and Chinawater. Over 200 subsidiaries are linked to AquaFed but not listed on their website.
AquaFed's Efforts to Conceal Membership
In early 2006 Corporate Observatory Europe made repeated email requests and phone calls to Aquafed requesting details of exactly who were members of the group. "The AquaFed secretariat," CEO reported, "rejected the request for a list of member companies, arguing that 'the Federation is young and the membership is not stabilised yet'." Not did Aquafed disclose its sources of funding. Based on its secrecy and affiliations of key personnel with the water companies Suez and Veolia, CEO raised questions that Aqufed may be a lobbying front that was unrepresentative of the private-owned water industry. "Until AquaFed proves otherwise, there is reason to assume that Aquafed may represent only Suez, Veolia and their subsidiaries," CEO wrote.
In late April 2006 Aquafed created a page on its website that simply provided "a list of countries where private operators that are linked to AquaFed®,are providing water/sanitation services." It wasn't until October 2006 that the group provided a list of members, comprising three affiliated national trade associations from the USA, Uganda and Chile and fourteen member companies. Of the fourteen member companies, three were different subsidiaries of the Veolia company and two subsidiaries of United Water. In addition, Aquafed claimed that it represented "other companies" which it referred to as being "over 200 subsidiaries of the above mentioned companies - either direct members or indirect members through their national association - are operating water or wastewater services and are linked to the Federation."
The major members it listed were
- Water Partnership Council – USA
- Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Servicios Sanitarios, Chile
- Association of Private Water Operators
Specific member companies are:
- Acque Toscane (Italy)
- Agbar (Spain):
- Aguas do Amazonas (Brazil)
- Amendis (Morocco)
- Eurawasser (Germany)
- Lydec (Morocco)
- Palyja (Indonesia)
- Société d'Energie et d'Eau du Gabon (Gabon)
- Suez Environnement (France)
- United Water Inc. (USA)
- United Water International (Australia)
- Veolia Water (France)
- Veolia Water AMI (France)
- Veolia Water India Pvt-Ltd (India)
- Gerard Payen, President - former CEO and chairman of the Ondeo Group (For more information)
- Jack Moss, represents AquaFed at international events - Senior Water Advisor at Suez
6 rond point Schuman box 5
Tel: +32 2 234 78 07
Fax: +32 2 234 79 11
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Tel: +33 1 56 60 50 07
Fax: +33 1 56 60 56 60
Articles and Resources
- AquaFed website, accessed February 2010.
- AquaFed website's "Press" page
- Membership, UN Water website, accessed February 2010.
- David Hall (PSIRU) and Olivier Hoedmann, [Aquafed: a new lobby group for private water], Corporate Europe Observatory, 21 March 2006.
- Geography page, AquaFed website
- Aquafed: a front group for Suez and Veolia?, Corporate Europe Observatory, 2006.
- Geography", Aquafed, April 29, 2006.
- "Membership", Aquafed, October 10, 2006. (The cited date is the date the page was indexed in the Internet Archive).
Related SourceWatch Articles
- David Hall (PSIRU) and Olivier Hoedmann, Aquafed: a new lobby group for private water, Corporate Europe Observatory, 21 March 2006.
- AquaFed profile at SpinProfile.