"Private Participation in Water and Sanitation: Tools for Exploring and Evaluating Current Policies in the Sector"

2-3 April 2003



Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Mexico
Mexico City


School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
and Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Mexico


* Most papers presented at the conference are available for downloading in the documents web page.

First Day - 2 April 2003

Ms Giovana Valenti Nigrini (M.Phil.)
General Director
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO)
Mexico Branch

Welcome Speech

Dr José Esteban Castro
PRINWASS General Coordinator
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Introduction to the Conference

Session I: "An overview of private participation in the water sector"

Chairperson: Dr. María Luisa Torregrossa Armentia
PRINWASS Coordinator in Mexico
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO)

Dr. Cassio Luiseli Fernández
Undersecretary of Development and Environmental Regulation
Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT)
Federal Government, Mexico

Paper title: "Perspectiva Institucional de la Participación Privada del Sector Agua en México: Hacia un Balance entre Eficiencia y Equidad" (Institutional perspective of private participation in the Mexican water sector: towards a balance between efficiency and equity)

Note: The paper was presented on behalf of Dr Luiseli Fernández by Ms Linda Peña Alfaro Gonzalez (M.Phil), Coordinator of Assistants, Undersecretariat of Development and Environmental Regulation, SEMARNAT

Prof. Asit K. Biswas
President, Third World Centre for Water Management
Mexico City

Paper title: "Private sector participation: panacea or Pandora’s box?"

Ms. Lilian Saade Hazin (M.Phil)
Independent Water Consultant
Formerly at the Global and Structural Policies Division
Environment Directorate
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE)
Paris, France

Paper title: "Private sector participation in the balance: the case of Mexico"

Dr Sara Grusky
International Water Working Group
Water for All Campaign
Public Citizen, U.S.A.

Paper title: "The myth of private sector financing: a review of 8 cases"

Mr Vladimir Libreros Muñoz (M.Phil)
University Programme for City Studies (PUEC)
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Mexico City

Paper title: "Private enterprise and water services in Mexico: evaluation of the last decade"

Dr. Miguel Solanes
Regional Adviser in Water and Public Services Law
UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
Santiago de Chile

Paper title: "América Latina: sin Regulación ni Competencia? Impactos sobre la Gobernabilidad del Agua y sus Servicios" (Latin America: );

Note: Although Dr Solanes was unable to attend the conference in person owing to an unexpected personal problem, he sent his contribution to the event.

* * *

Session II: "The Actors’ Perspective"

Chairperson: Dr Giorgos Kallis
PRINWASS Coordinator in Greece
University of the Aegean, Athens

Lic. Juan Carlos Valencia Vargas
National Water Commission (CNA)
Federal Government, Mexico

Paper title: "Characteristics of the water sector in Mexico"

Lic. Hermelinda María Rocha Ferreira
General Director of Inter-Sector and Community Links
Secretary of Sanitation
Prefeitura do Recife
Recife, Pernambuco

Paper title: "Popular Participation in the Sanitation Services of the city of Recife"

Mr Jacques Letondot
Suez Environemment
Mexico City

Paper title: "Public-Private Partnership: Solutions and Examples"

Lic Gabriela Tunales
Project Coordinator - PROMAGUA
National Bank of Public Works and Services (BANOBRAS)
Mexico City

Paper title: "Experiences and Perspectives in BANOBRAS Water and Treatment Sector"

Eng. Odete Maria Viero
General Director’s Assistant Engineer
Municipal Department of Water and Sewerage (DMAE)
Prefeitura de Porto Alegre
Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Paper title: "Water Supply and Sanitation in Porto Alegre, Brazil"

Note: Although Eng Viero was unable to attend the conference in person owing to professional commitments, she sent her contribution to the event.

* * * * *

Second Day - 3 April 2003

Session III: "Socio-Political Conflicts Arising from Current Models to Increase Private Participation in Water and Sanitation"

Chairperson: Dr Fernando Saavedra Peláez
PRINWASS Mexico Team
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Mexico

Dr Gary Wolff
Principal Economist and Engineer
The Pacific Institute, Oakland, CA

Paper title: "Intrinsic Value Conflicts in Water Sector Privatization"

Dr Vivienne Bennett
University of California San Marcos, CA
and Dr Sonia Dávila Poblete
Member of the Advisory Technical Committee
Global Water Partnership

Paper title: "The Social Impacts of Privatization of Water and Sanitation Systems: The response from below in Latin America"

Note: Dr Bennett was unable to attend the conference in person owing to an unexpected personal problem, and the paper was presented by Dr Dávila Poblete.

Lic. Gloria Guerra Guerrero
Sub-Director of the Users Desk
Mexico City Water System

Paper title: "The socio-political situation of water in the Federal District"

* * *

Session IV: "Private Participation and the Governance of Water and Sanitation Services"

Chairperson: Dr Fernando Saavedra Peláez
PRINWASS Mexico Team
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Mexico

Eng. Félix Hernández Gamundi

Paper title: "Private Participation in the Funding of Municipal Water Utilities from the Perspective of the Users"

Mr. Eric Gutierrez
Research Officer
WaterAid, United Kingdom

Paper title: "Privatisation and the failed promise of free market theory: towards developing an alternative"

Mr. Osmo Seppälä
Senior Research Engineer
Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology
Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland

Paper title: "Diverse Management Options for Good Governance in Water Services"

Prof. Emilio Pradilla Cobos
Coordinador of the Doctoral Programme
Department of Design Sciences and Arts
Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) Xochimilco
Mexico City

Paper title: "Social and Political Costs of Private Participation in the Management of Water and Sanitation Systems"

* * *


Chairperson: Dr José Esteban Castro
PRINWASS General Coordinator
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford


Dr. Jean Robert
Author of the book Water is a Commons

Dr. César Añorve
Centro de Innovación en Tecnología Alternativa, A. C.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

Eng. Jorge Saavedra
representative of the private sector

Eng. Leopoldo Rodarte
Advisor to the Federal District Department
to Eng. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas
and former officer at the Water Commission of the Federal District (CADF)

Lic. Martha Delgado
Unión de Grupos Ambientalistas y Presencia Ciudadana Mexicana A. C.
Mexico City

Lic. Rodolfo Ogarrio Ramírez-España
Secretario Ejecutivo
Consejo Consultivo del Agua
Mexico City

* * * * *

The speakers

Cassio Luiseli Fernández is presently Undersecretary of Environmental Regulation at the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), President of the Mexico-Korea Commission for the 21st Century, and SEMARNAT representative before the National Commission of Foreign Investments. Born in Mexico, he received a bachelor’s degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Economics. Graduated with a masters degree and completed doctoral studies in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a Public Servant was adviser to the President of Mexico and at the President Cabinet as General Coordinator of the Mexican Food System. Held posts of Deputy General of ECLAC, (U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) and Deputy Director of the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation in Agriculture. Served as Mexico’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and South Africa in the last one also served as concurred Ambassador of Mexico to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. As a Professor (and advisor researcher) he has taught at the Center of Economic Research and Instruction (CIDE), El Colegio de México at the Asian and African Studies Center. He is presently teaching at the Technological Institute of Monterrey (Mexico City Campus). Authored and co-authored various books about economic development, agriculture and international issues. In his area of expertise has published more than 40 articles and has served as a member of the advisory council for the magazine Nexos in Mexico. Columnist at El Universal, the most influential newspaper in Mexico City. Member of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and Member of the Mexican Council for International Affairs.

Asit K. Biswas is is the President of the Third World Centre for Water Management. Educated in India and the U.K., he was a member of the World Water Commission, and the Past President of International Water Resources Association and International Society for Ecological Modelling. Prof. Biswas was one of the two main founders of the World Water Council, and served on its Government Board. He has been a senior advisor to 17 governments at Ministerial/Secretarial levels, and to six Heads of United Nations agencies. He was Director of the Department of Environment in Ottawa, Canada; Senior Fellow, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Luxenbourg, Austria; and Professor at Queen’s University, Canada, and University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He has been a Senior Advisor to most major bilateral and multilateral agencies dealing with water and environmental issues, and has acted as the leader of numerous international missions. He received honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from the University of Lund, Sweden, “for outstanding contributions to his field”, Crystal Drop Award and Millennium Award of the International Water Resources Association, for “outstanding lifetime achievements in water management”. Among his numerous other international recognitions are the Walter Hubert Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the first Rockefeller Foundation Award on International Relations. He was the Vice-chairman of the panel of Eminent Persons on Economic Policies for Sustainable Development of the Asian Development Bank. He is a honorary member Russian Academy of Engineering, Indian Water Resources Society, and Egyptian Engineering Academy. A leading international authority on water and the environment, Dr. Biswas is the author of 61 books and over 550 papers, some of which have now been translated into 31 languages. He is the Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Water Resources Development.

Lilian Saade Hazin has a Master's degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Warwick (UK). She has worked extensively on water utility management issues (especially public-private partnerships and infrastructure financing), with related experience at the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, IHE-Delft, the OECD, and the World Bank. She is currently working as an Independent Consultant in the water sector. She has several publications on the strategy of the Mexican government towards a more efficient water management, private sector participation in the water sector and economic instruments in environmental policies. Ms. Saade has participated in several international forums related to water management and its economic aspects.

Sara Grusky joined the Water-for-All Campaign at Public Citizen in January 2002 as a policy advocate. Previously she served as co-director of Globalization Challenge Initiative, founded the Debt and Development project at Bread for the World Institute and worked closely with the Jubilee 2000 network worldwide that calls for the cancellation of developing country debt. Dr. Grusky has taught courses in political science, Latin American studies, political economy, comparative politics and women in development at Howard University, Catholic University, Trinity College and Gettysburg College. Dr. Grusky is also trained as a midwife and worked with the International Medical Relief Fund in El Salvador to strengthen basic health services and the midwifery association in an ex-conflict zone.

Vladimir Libreros Muñoz.

Miguel Solanes.

Juan Carlos Valencia Vargas.

Hermelinda María Rocha Ferreira .

Jacques Letondot.

Gabriela Tunales.

Odete Maria Viero is a civil engineer and a specialist on water supply and sewerage. A senior civil servant of Porto Alegre, she is the General Director’s Assistant Engineer in the Municipal Department of Water and Sewerage (DMAE), Prefeitura de Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Gary Wolff is the principal economist and engineer at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, California. He received his Bachelors Degree in Renewable Energy Engineering Technology from Jordan College in 1982, Masters Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 1984, and his Doctoral degree in Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997. His professional career has included solar energy construction contracting, water quality regulation for the State of California, design engineer at a wastewater treatment plant, founder and president for eight years of a small (12 person) engineering consulting firm, a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and a visiting professorship at the Graduate School of International Policy Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Dr. Wolff’s experience with local government and special districts is extensive. He is the past president of the Alameda County Recycling Board, a County charter agency that manages an annual budget of $7.2 million, and past chair of the East Bay Municipal Utility District Demand Management Advisory Committee. He has performed numerous pre-design, cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness, and feasibility studies for water, wastewater, solid waste, and renewable energy projects. He is currently working on water conservation economics in California, the issues associated with privatization of the water sector in an increasingly global economy, guidelines for World Bank employees on environmental issues in the water sector, and pesticide regulation in California.

Vivienne Bennett is a professor of Latin American Studies and Department Chair of the Liberal Studies Department at California State University, San Marcos. She is the author of The Politics of Water: Urban Protest, Gender, and Power in Monterrey, Mexico (The University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995), and co-editor with Sonia Dávila Poblete and Maria Nieves Rico of Swimming Against the Current: Gender and Water in Latin America (forthcoming, The University of Pittsuburgh Press). She is the author of numerous book chapters and journal articles on the politics of water, and on social movements in Mexico. She was a plenary speaker at the Stockholm Water Symposium in 1998. She is on the International Advisory Board of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Sonia Dávila Poblete completed her doctoral studies in Sociology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Previously she carried out a masters programme in Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York. Since 1999 she has been a member of the Advisory Technical Committee of Global Water Partnership, and is also a member of and consultant to the Managing Committee for the Comprehensive Evaluation of Water Management in Agriculture of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). She also worked at the Mexican Institute for Water Technology (IMTA). Dr Dávila Poblete has co-edited the book Swimming Against the Current: Gender and Water in Latin America” (University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming) with Vivienne Bennett and María Nieves Rico, and is also currently co-editing another volume on El correr de las Vertientes: Formas de Organización Social en torno al Agua, jointly with Ana Helena Treviño.

Gloria Guerra Guerrero has a BA in Social Communication, and has studied among other disciplines educational cinema, editorial design, museography, environmental sustainability, political, social, cultural, and economic history of Mexico, Hispano-American and Latin-American literature, and script writing for cinema. She has been working for over two decades on the social, cultural, and communicational aspects affecting water management in Mexico’s Federal District. She has carried out campaigns of social communication to promote a new water culture through the mass media, including the launching of the magazine Hidráulica Urbana (Urban Hydraulics), and has also participated in diverse editorial projects related to water and to the hydraulic history of Mexico City. She also made several documentaries on the construction of Mexico City’s Deep Drainage System, on water problems in the Federal District, and on forest sustainability in the metropolitan area. Currently, Lic. Guerra Guerrero continues to study and actively participate in the social-political processes affecting water management in Mexico City, and works for the city’s Water Authority.

Félix Hernández Gamundi.

Eric Gutierrez.

Osmo Seppälä.

Emilio Pradilla Cobos.

Jean Robert.

César Añorve.

Jorge Saavedra.

Leopoldo Rodarte.

Martha Delgado.

Rodolfo Ogarrio Ramírez-España.

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We are very grateful to Ms Giovana Valenti Nigrini, General Director of FLACSO Mexico, for the institutional and material support offered for the organization of the conference.

General Coordination: José Esteban Castro and María Luisa Torregrossa Armentia

Logistic Assistance: Karina Kloster, Gabriel Cosío, Christian Lenin Ruiz, and Teresa García (FLACSO Mexico)(FLACSO Mexico),