The fifth World Water Forum

Jialing riverThis week in Istanbul, Turkey, around 15,000 water specialists are meeting for the fifth World Water Forum. This occurs as water scarcity is increasing and is due to keep on doing so around the world.

With the goal of bridging divides over water, this forum will tackle international issues as water scarcity is at the center of many international problems as two thirds of Mankind are due to suffer of water shortages by 2025.

Climate change isn’t the only problem that will reinforce water scarcity as demographic growth, energy production and pollution are also important issues.

As the IHT noted:

Worldwide demand for water is rising just as access to safe drinking water and sanitation remains inadequate in much of the developing world, the United Nations said Monday, calling for better management to alleviate water shortages.

Population growth and mobility, as well as increased energy production, especially of biofuels such as ethanol, are contributing to the high demand for water, UNESCO said on the first day of a global water forum in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

“With increasing shortages, good governance is more than ever essential for water management. Combating poverty also depends on our ability to invest in this resource,” said Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the U.N. agency. He urged leaders who will gather for the G-8 summit in Italy in July to pledge investment in water resources to help prevent a “major water crisis.”

Thousands of activists, entrepreneurs, mayors, parliamentarians and business executives have gathered for the weeklong World Water Forum, which is held every three years to promote ideas about conserving, managing and supplying water. Climate change and the impact of the global economic meltdown are key issues on the agenda this year.

(…)The forum, whose members include the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross, deny they represent special interests. Still, companies were exhibiting water-related products at the conference complex on the Golden Horn, the city’s peninsula.

UNESCO said half a billion people in Africa lack access to adequate sanitation, and that 5,000 children die daily from diarrhea, a disease that can be prevented with clean water. The agency said the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day is roughly the same as the number without access to safe drinking water.

(…) Two dozen U.N. agencies released a report that said countries fail to share water data, GDP growth had been held back by as much as 10 percent in areas where water investment was weak and donors are not meeting aid commitments.

“In recent years, the share of aid going to water supply and sanitation has stagnated at around 4 percent, while that to other areas of the water sector has actually dropped,” Matsuura said.

Water demand is increasing partly because of the rising production of ethanol and other biofuels in countries such as Brazil and the United States. Large amounts of water and fertilizers are needed to grow the crops needed to make biofuels, placing additional stress on the environment, according to the U.N.

(…) “Somehow these activities are conveniently left out of the U.N.’s report,” spokesman Jin Chon said.

In addition, the U.N. said many countries have legislation that protects and manages water resources, but reforms “have yet to have any noticeable effect” because water policy needs to include decision-makers in other fields such as agriculture, energy, trade and finance.

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