Nestlé’s chairman has been caught on camera saying that water isn’t a human right, calling this view “extreme”. [The video in German with English subtitles is below] Instead, he wants water sold on the open market like anything else, for those who can afford to buy it—and his company is working harder than ever to make sure it happens.
Its business model is clear: privatize and commodify our public resources—under the leadership of a man who says a CEO’s “biggest social responsibility” is to ensure corporate profits. From Pakistan to Canada, Nestlé is busy draining millions of litres of our fresh water—often without paying a cent!—in order to sell back to the public at record prices.
Here’s the thing: if we don’t stand up to Nestlé, no one will. The world’s largest food company already has governments and regulators in its back pocket, and has cowed others with its aggressive PR campaigns.
They have billions in corporate profits and influence. But we are two million people strong, and we have the public on our side. And when people stand together, we can win. In Canada, an ambitious lawsuit stopped Nestlé from extracting millions more litres of fresh water during a drought. And in Pakistan, Nestlé was even sponsoring fake “public health seminars” to tell people that non-bottled water was dangerous, until public outrage forced them to stop.
Together, we’re powerful. We’ve already shown that we can win, but the truth is we need to do much more if we’re to seriously challenge the agenda of Nestlé and its corporate friends. Here’s some of the things our community could do together—if we all chip in:
Fight lawsuits against Nestlé and win—just like the case run by the Council of Canadians and others that prevented Nestlé from taking even more water to bottle during drought conditions;
Hold rallies outside key Nestlé events to make sure that the most powerful executives and shareholders know that we’re watching them—just like we’ve already done against Bayer in our campaign to save the bees;
Purchase advertisements that target key Nestlé customers to ask them to stop stocking Nestlé products—we know the US State Department heard us loud and clear when we spoke out against KXL using this tactic;
Act quickly to build media interest when further Nestlé misbehaviours come to light—perhaps producing viral videos that will expose their chairman’s claim that water is not a human right;
Run Facebook ads directly targeting Nestlé employees to remind employees that they too have the power to change Nestlé from within the company.
People like us have shown time and time again that when we come together, we can defeat Nestlé. Back in the 1970s, Nestlé aggressively marketed a breast-milk substitute that didn’t provide the nutrients babies actually need, and contributed to the suffering and deaths of thousands of babies in poor communities around the world. But a years-long boycott over Nestlé’s campaign against breastfeeding was a historic success in corporate campaigning—reversing the company’s policies.
Today, Nestlé is feeling the pressure more than ever. It knows that around the world, people are starting to see its agenda for what it is—and that we’re coming together like never before to stand up to them. That’s why Nestlé has invested millions in a corporate “mission control” dedicated to protecting the company’s reputation online.
We need to keep up the pressure on Nestlé—in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in North America and around the world, we are seeing Nestlé’s growing efforts to commodify our natural resources only to sell them back to us. We can stop Nestlé evil ways—we have the community and the tools to do it—all we need now is more resources to keep this pressure going.