Protest Opens Water Conference

Dec. 28, 2000
Protesters stripped naked and mounted the stage in front of the inaugural speaker at the Second World Water Forum in the Hague, Netherlands. The speaker, Egyptian water resources minister Mahmoud Abu Zeid, looked on in stunned silence as a man and woman disrobed in front of the rostrum and revealed to the audience the name of a controversial Spanish dam painted on their backs and buttocks.

Other activists scaled the walls of the conference hall and hung from the ceiling. "Please come down, sit down and let's talk like grownups do in this world," said Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander, the forum's honorary chairman. The nude man and woman were led away by what appeared to be security officials. It was not immediately clear whether they were arrested.

The activists were protesting what they said was the Forum's sidestepping of crucial environmental issues, including the Itoiz dam project in northern Spain's Navarra province.

More than 3,500 delegates from 150 countries attended the five-day conference, the follow-up to the first global water congress held in Marrakech, Morocco, two years ago. Industry representatives, volunteer organizations and politicians met to address topics including the sustainable supply of water to the world's growing population. With one-sixth of the world's population lacking clean drinking water, forum organizers have called for annual global spending on water problems to be more than doubled.

Photo 217285685 © Noipornpan |
Image courtesy Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).