Integrated, Sustainable Approach Needed for Water

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said World Water Day (March 22) this year will focus on "Coping with Water Scarcity."

Water scarcity can be physical, economic, or institutional and can fluctuate over time and space. Today, about 700 million people in 43 countries suffer from water scarcity, and by 2025 this figure could increase to more than 3 billion people.

According to the United Nations, the state of the world's waters remains fragile and the need for an integrated and sustainable approach to water resource management is as pressing as ever. Available supplies are under great duress as a result of high population growth, unsustainable consumption patterns, poor management practices, pollution, and inadequate investment in infrastructure and low efficiency in water-use.

Integrated water resource management will be crucial for overcoming water scarcity. So will international cooperation, since many of the world's rivers and aquifers are shared among countries.

Such cooperation can also promote harmonious cross-border ties in general. The U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals have highlighted the importance of access to safe drinking water supplies and adequate sanitation, which undeniably separates people living healthy and productive lives from those living in poverty and who are most vulnerable to various life-threatening diseases.

"On this World Water Day," Ki-Moon said, "I call on the United Nations system and all stakeholders to forge stronger partnerships and take more concerted action, not only this year, but throughout the entire International Decade for Action: 'Water for Life,' 2005-2015."

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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