A major player in the global water industry, Margaret Catley-Carlson has held many high-ranking positions in both global governing institutions as well as corporations. Her close ties to industry calls attention to her ardent support of private sector participation within the creation of a global water market. At a speech to the United Nations in 2007, Carlson pronounced her support for the commercialization of fresh water goods and services suggesting:
Far too many people insist that “Water should be no cost/low cost”. Many who advocate that water is a Human Right insist that it must be free. The relevant UN resolution says it should be ‘affordable’ (ECOSOC, 2002). While subsidy is essential to protect the poor, paying enough to keep the pipes and reservoirs of the system going is essential in countries with no tax base, few government revenues and other priorities for aid Euros "
Carlson is chair of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) – a policy network that pushes a privation agenda through the promotion of the Dublin Principles. The Global Water Partnership is a forum for alliance building amongst those in favour of a global water market. Carlson, an Officer of the Order of Canada, has held the following high-profile positions including:
- Chair of the Global Water Partnership,
- Chair of the Board of the Global Crop Diversity Trust,
- Chair of the International Water Resources Advisory Committee for Group Suez *Lyonnaise des Eaux.
- Chair of Global Crop Diversity Trust
- Member of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation,
- Member of the Rosenberg Forum,
- Member of the Council of Advisors of the World Food Prize.
- On the board of trustees of the International Water Management Institute (Sri Lanka)
- On the board of trustees of the Biblioteca Alexandrina (Egypt)
- On the board of IMWI the International Center for Water Resource Management
- On the board of the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC)
- On the board of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
- Member of the International Water Academy (Oslo),
- Appointed Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations (1981)
- Former chair of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
- Former chair of CABI board – a not for profit organization specializing in scientific *publishing, research and communication
- Former Chair Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WWSCC)
- Former vice Chair of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Former commissioner of Water for the 21st Century
- Former President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) 1983- 89
- Former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF in New York 1981-1983
- Former President of the Population Council in New York 1993-98
- Former and Deputy Minister of the Department of Health and Welfare of Canada 1989-92
- MaximsNews, , accessed 25 February 2008.
- UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, About UNSGAB, accessed 25 February 2008.
- University of Dundee, Laureation Address for Margaret Catley-Carlson by Patricia Wouters, accessed 25 February 2008.