May 18, 2021

STATEMENT: Veolia-Suez impending merger threatens people’s human right to water

On Friday, the world’s largest private water corporations Veolia and Suez signed an agreement to move forward on a merger. This merger represents the biggest consolidation of corporate control of water in over a decade.

The private water industry, especially Veolia and Suez, has a long track record of human rights, labor, and environmental abuses. Their merger sets the stage for an even larger Veolia with far more resources to influence governments and expand its reach globally, while the “new Suez” will be uniquely positioned for expansion into the Global South. Two private equity firms, including one with deep ties to the World Bank, are poised to own up to 80% of the “new Suez,” further obscuring transparency and accountability. In the coming months, Veolia will seek to finalize regulatory approvals and move into the formal purchase of shares from existing Suez shareholders.

Please see below for a statement for Corporate Accountability Associate Research Director Neil Gupta (he/him) on the merger.

“This merger is about more than stock prices or dividends. This is about people’s lives. The consolidation of corporate control over water into the hands of an even smaller group of wealthy individuals and institutional shareholders in the Global North threatens to worsen an already unjust status quo. 

The fact that the former World Bank Group President and International Finance Corporation CEO are partners at the private equity firm poised to own 40% of Suez shows the dangerous reality of the revolving door. The two men who led an institution that paved the way for water privatization in the Global South now stand to profit richly from these very policies.

Water privatization has failed communities around the world, and Veolia and Suez’s track records are especially egregious. From Flint, U.S. to Osorno, Chile to Lagos, Nigeria, people are rejecting the private water industry and demanding their human right to water be fulfilled. This merger flies in the face of what communities are calling for. But, it won’t stop the growing movement of people around the world coming together to stop privatization and fight for a future where no person is denied their human right to water.”

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