Istanbul hosts World Water Forum

Some 2,000 delegates have gathered in Instabul this week to discuss global challenges to the delivery of a clean water supply for all.

The forum is held every three years and brings together water professionals, legislators and NGOs to discuss broad issues surrounding water supply.

The Istanbul event is the fifth in the series and, with Turkey geographically straddling the traditional boundaries of east and west and north and south, the theme for this year's event is Bridging Divides for Water.

It will look at how industrialised countries, emerging economies and the developing world can work together on water.

The UN has published a report to coincide with the global gathering warning of an impending water crisis.

It says that demand for water has never been greater and it will only increase due to population growth and mobility, rising living standards, changes in food consumption, and increased energy production, especially biofuels.

"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," says the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura,

He said that the effects of climate change are likely to aggravate the situation even and competition for water is intensifying - whether between countries, urban and rural areas, or different sectors of activity, warning that this may make water an increasingly politicised issue that could lead to conflict.

While many countries are working on reforms to ensure water supply, says the UN report, these have yet to have any noticeable effect, because action is too often confined to the water sector alone while the key decisions about water are taken outside the water sector.

For decisions to be effective, it argues, they need to involve decision makers from all sectors, including agriculture, energy, trade and finance, as they all have a decisive impact on water management.

Sam Bond



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