Natural Resources Committee Calls for Global Water Plan

Article excerpt

A worldwide plan to avert an impending global water crisis was called for by the Committee on Natural Resources at its second session (22 February-4 March, New York).

The strategy should define specific areas of priority to diminish significantly by the year 2010 the threat to freshwater resources, the 24-member expert body said in asking the UN Commission on Sustainable Development to undertake that task.

"Water shortages are becoming a common occurrence in industrialized and developing countries alike", stated a report examined by the Committee. "The world may be reaching a water crisis situation of global proportions."

The Committee also asked Governments to establish a dynamic and multisectoral approach to water resources management, including assessing and protecting potential sources of freshwater.

As for mineral resources--another major concern--the Committee wanted the Commission to forge a dialogue between the UN system and the international mining industry to develop new approaches to ensure a sustainable supply of mineral resources.

Workshops on mineral resource assessment projects were recommended. A report was asked on key advances in state-of-the-art technologies to minimize environmental degradation resulting from mining and related processing.

Reports

Among several interesting reports before the Committee was a 26-page document on water resources (E/C.7/1994/4), detailing critical concerns for the 1990s and regional trends in water resources management.

Available information suggested that Governments were "subsidizing services to the better-off population at higher levels, rather than to the urban low-income population and rural areas", the report stated.

With the bulk of population increase taking place in urban areas, the availability of safe water in cities "is fast becoming one of the most important factors limiting socio-economic development". …