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Debunked: WEF hasn’t declared ‘water is not a human right’ or ordered governments to ration it

The World Economic Forum is a regular target of misinformation.

A BASELESS CLAIM that the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ordered governments to ration water originated on a website known for spreading misinformation and is not backed up by evidence.

A screenshot of the article – titled ‘Water is Not a Human Right’: WEF Orders Govt’s To Begin Rationing Water Into Homes – and a video containing the same information has accumulated thousands of likes on Instagram and were viewed more than 100,000 times on Twitter. 

“Klaus Schwab does not believe that water is a Human Right,” one post to Facebook by an Irish activist group reads.

“He will be educated by The People In due course…”

However, the article referenced is to a known misinformation website —a rebranding of NewsPunch — and its article in no way backs up its headline.

The WEF is a non-governmental organisation which describes itself as an “International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, but which is primarily known for organising, in the words of The Economist, “the ultimate A-list bash for plutocrats”.

It is not clear how, as the article claims, the WEF can order national governments to do anything.

Instead, the closest it comes to touching off the issues mentioned are references to the UN 2023 Water Conference and remarks made in 2005 by the head of Nestlé.

As the name suggests, the UN 2023 Water Conference is not organised by the WEF, but by the United Nations (UN), which explicitly recognises “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right”.

There are no references to rationing water into homes in the conference’s public literature, though contrary statements, such as “we need to ensure the human right to water”, do appear throughout.

The only other evidence they present that has a connection with water rights are comments made by then-CEO of Nestlé Peter Brabeck-Letmathe in a 2005 documentary.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, was a member of the WEF’s 12-person Foundation Board at the time the comments aired, according to Nestlé Corporate Governance documents.

In the documentary, Brabeck-Letmathe discusses whether water should be privatised, describing the opinion that water is “a public right” as being “extreme”.

Instead, he says, it’s better to treat water like other foodstuffs, which have a price. He goes on to say “specific measures” should be taken to help people without access to water.

(Full comments begin about 87 minutes in this video).

Nestle has since released a statement saying that Brabeck-Letmathe believes that water is a human right, and does not believe “all water sources should be privatised.”

In either case, it is clear that Brabeck-Letmathe, who introduces himself only as the CEO of Nestlé, is discussing his own opinion, not those of any organisation he is part of.

The WEF is not mentioned in the interview.

A spokesman for the WEF, quoted in USA TODAY, confirmed that the WEF never said that water is not a human right.


False. The World Economic Forum has not declared ‘water is not a human right’ nor has it ordered governments to ration it.

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