Co-operation is key to resource management
In the run-up to WWF4, the Head of the Secretariat, César Herrera, is calling for solidarity from the global community in meeting development challenges, managing transboundary river basins and countering the effects of climate change.The World Water Forum (WWF4), which is held every three years, is considered to be the most important international event devoted to this precious resource. The WWF4 is organised by the Mexican National Commission of Water and the World Water Council, and will be held Mexico City.
The Forum will be an open space for dialogue, where users, institutions and organisations from the participating countries may tell the world about their successful experiences and actions. In addition, delegates will submit proposals related to the future management and preservation of water resources.
The worldwide challenge is that that more than 2 billion people lack drinking water and some 3.25 billion lack basic sanitation services. Some countries have to allocate US$14 of their income for health measures for every dollar that they do not invest in good quality drinking water for their inhabitants.
It is vital to double efforts in cities to attain better use of water by focusing development on its availability. A city that grows without bearing in mind the availability of water is one that is compromising the well-being of present and future generations.
River basin management
Over 100 nations of the world share rivers and basins - another issue of global importance. In some cases, there is a total absence of rules and agreements for the proper management, preservation and distribution of water, a situation that leads to conflicts, which are exacerbated when water becomes scarce.
To overcome this type of challenge, a spirit of solidarity among nations and inhabitants that share basins is imperative. It is necessary to create clear rules for the management, distribution and conservation of water - rules that accommodate priorities of different types of use, as well as the varied scenarios for availability of the resource, including measures to be applied in situations of insufficiency.
The impact of climate change is doubtless a matter of grave concern worldwide, the scale and nature of which is still difficult to predict, despite the use of satellites and modern equipment and measuring methods that facilitate early warning systems for populations. Droughts have increased in frequency and have already begun to affect the major rivers of the planet, like the Amazon.
Drought, combined with the need to increase food production for growing populations, has made it imperative to use water efficiently in all production activities and at household level too. Many countries commonly use between 70-75% of their water for agriculture yet efficient use of water in agriculture in some regions can bring this figure down to 50%.
The increase in frequency and a magnitude of hurricanes around the world may also be linked to climate change. In 2005 alone, a record number of hurricanes were witnessed around the planet causing lamentable loss of life through flooding and significant damage to the environment and infrastructure, evidencing the vulnerability of some regions.
WWF4 offers an excellent opportunity to exchange views, examine options and find solutions to the challenges linked to the good management and conservation of water. The organisers hope that outcomes from Forum will be of a practical nature, exerting an influence to make improvements, carry out concrete actions and create public policy to foster better living conditions for communities, as well as preserve the natural environment.
It is very important that the Forum has substantial participation from institutions, specialists, companies and the media. Their perspectives and proposals will be fundamental in jointly seeking improved management and conservation of water. Mexico is proud to host this important event on water, a resource that President Vicente Fox Quesada has deemed to be strategic and a matter of national security.