UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation

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In 2004 Kofi Annan established the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. The intended mandate of the board is to “galvanize global action on water and sanitation issues…” with missions to “give advice to UN Secretary General; give input in global dialogue process; raise global awareness through mass-media, etc.; influence and work on global, regional, national institutions at highest level; and take its own actions towards MDGs[1].

Though the board states that it is an “independent body”, critics of the board are concerned with several board members support of private sector participation in the water services sector as well and their promotion of cost-recovery approaches to water delivery. Perhaps even more disconcerting, however, is the fact that several prominent neoliberal figures sit on the board, including, former managing director of the IMF Michael Camdessus, Egypt’s Irrigation and Water Minister and founder and member of the board of governors of the World Water Council (WWC) Mahmoud Abou Zeid, former chair off the Global Water Partnership (GWP) Margaret Catley-Carlson, Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurría, and former senior executive-vice-president of Suez and former chairperson and CEO of Ondeo Gerard Payen. It’s no wonder why the recently appointed senior adviser on water to the UN, Maude Barlow, in her 2007 book entitled ‘The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water’ suggests that the neo-liberal agenda of the Washington Consensus has become the “guiding mantra for the elite running the global institutions involved in water development, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and even the United Nations” [2].

Board Members

Prince Willem-Alexander (Chairperson)

Uschi Eid (Vice-Chair)

Mahmoud Abu-Zeid

David Boys

Michael Camdessus

Juanita Castano

Margaret Catley-Carlson

Jocelyn Dow

Giorgio Giacomelli

Angel Gurría

Han Seung-soo Kbe

Omar Kabbaj

Olivia La O’Castillo

Antonio Miranda

Maria Mutagamba

Poul Nielson

Hideaki Oda

Eric Odada

Gerard Payen

Judith Rees

Richard (Roy) Torkelson

Yordan Uzunov

Shucheng Wang


  1. UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) (United Nations), About UNSGAB, accessed 27 October 2008.
  2. Maude Barlow (2007) ‘The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle For the Right To Water’, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., p.37.