Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

World Water Forum Ends in Flood of Commitments. (News)

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

World Water Forum Ends in Flood of Commitments. (News)

Article excerpt

The eight-day meeting held in the three neighbouring cities of Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan, ended on 23 March by issuing a statement of commitment. Overall, this was "to facing the global water challenges" and achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving, by 2015, the proportion of poor people without secure access to water and sanitation. To do so, groups participating in the Forum made over 100 commitments, but what these add up to, and the extent to which they are and compatible, remains to be seen.

"The third World Water Forum has become a truly action-oriented conference," said Kenzo Hiroki, its Vice Secretary-General. Over 24 000 participants from 182 countries attended--well over three times as many people as expected. Their main concerns were with meeting the increasing human need for adequate water supplies, and balancing these with the demands of health, sanitation, food production, transportation, energy and environmental protection. Most countries also stressed the need for effective government, improved capacity, and adequate financing to manage these issues.

Global water consumption has increased tenfold in the last century, according to Sustainability, a development consulting firm. Over a billion people in the world have no access to safe drinking-water, and 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation. A result is that 3 million people die from preventable waterborne diseases every year. The World Trade Organization and industry groups see the market as the only way to organize the distribution of this increasingly scarce resource, by setting a price on it. Others, such as Maud Barlow and Tony Cark, authors of Blue gold, see this approach as "the corporate theft of the world's water". …

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