Magazine article Geographical

Bridge over Troubled Water. (Editorial)

Magazine article Geographical

Bridge over Troubled Water. (Editorial)

Article excerpt

With 2003 designated UNESCO International Year of Freshwater, issues surrounding the supply and demand of water are high on governments' agendas. During the 20th century, the world's population tripled, while water-use increased six-fold. With the shadow of climate change and water wars looming, it begs the question of whether this use is sustainable.

Encouraging progress was made at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development last September, where world leaders agreed to halve the number of people with inadequate access to water and basic sanitation by 2015. However, much work is required to make this goal a reality, and the Third World Water Forum next month in Japan will be critical to progress.

Given the cross-boundary nature of the water cycle and water politics, geographers are well placed to contribute to solutions. In October, the Society held a conference--Water 2003: what should be done?--to build on the outcomes of the Johannesburg summit and to inform and influence UK input into the meeting in Japan.

As well as looking at the problems, delegates shared examples of successful projects. For example, in areas short of water such as the Middle East, a `virtual water' initiative has been adopted in which food is imported instead of trying to obtain locally the 1,000 cubic metres of water required to produce one tonne of wheat. …

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