The claim suggests the World Economic Forum wants to control the price of water. Image by Jason O'BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS

Posts mislead about ‘globalist’ water pricing conspiracy

William Summers November 22, 2023

A video clip proves the World Economic Forum wants to put a price on water.


Misleading. The man in the video is an environmental scientist, not a WEF spokesman or employee.

A 35-second video clip from a World Economic Forum panel discussion is being claimed as proof that the global body plans to “put a price on your water”.

This is misleading. The person featured in the clip is Professor Johan Rockstrom, an environmental scientist and the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

While it is true he was speaking at a World Economic Forum (WEF) event, a spokeswoman for PIK said Prof Rockstrom was there as an independent scientist.

She also confirmed he is not an employee or spokesman for the WEF.

The claim has been shared widely across social media, examples here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

The posts feature a short clip of Prof Rockstrom’s speech. The captions vary, but most are variations of “WEF wants to put a price tag on your water for ‘common good’.”

WEF water
 Prof Rockström is not a representative of the WEF. 

The WEF has long been a target of conspiracy theorists who claim the organisation is part of a ‘globalist’ plot to suppress the masses for the benefit of a small group of wealthy elites.

AAP FactCheck has debunked numerous conspiracies about the WEF, including here, here, here and here.

Prof Rockstrom was speaking at the launch event of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, an independent body that says it aims to “spur change in the way societies govern, use and value water”.

Prof Rockstrom is a co-chair of the commission, which is convened by the Netherlands government and facilitated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In the clip, he discusses the future work of the new commission, which he says would include a review of “the economics of water”.

“We will be looking at the value of water and considering different novel economic policy measures,” Prof Rockstrom says.

Those proposed measures may include putting “some form of price on water… but not as a price to punish those who are poor, but rather to reward those that are stewards of fresh water for the common good.”

The panel discussion took place at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022.

A recording of the full 30-minute event can be viewed on the WEF’s YouTube channel here.

 The WEF has long been a target of conspiracy theorists. 

The other panel speakers were University College London economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a Singaporean government minister who became the country’s president in September 2023.

Ms Mazzucato and Mr Shanmugaratnam are also co-chairs of the commission, alongside Prof Rockstrom and World Trade Organisation director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The panel session in Davos was chaired by Alem Tedeneke, a media manager at WEF, who introduced Prof Rockstrom to the audience as the director of PIK.

A spokeswoman for PIK told AAP FactCheck in an email that Prof Rockstrom had spoken in his role as co-chair of the new commission and “the annual meeting of the WEF was the venue for the launch”.

Prof Rockstrom is “not a spokesperson for WEF, nor does he give comments on behalf of WEF,” the spokeswoman added.

The Verdict

The claim that a video proves the World Economic Forum wants to put a price on water is misleading.

The man in the video is Professor Johan Rockstrom, an environmental scientist and the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

While the event in question was hosted by the WEF, Professor Rockstrom attended as an independent academic and the co-chair of a water-related commission. He is not a WEF employee or spokesman.

Misleading – The claim is accurate in parts but information has also been presented incorrectly, out of context or omitted.

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