Planning Continues for U.N. Water Forum

On May 13, 2008, the 5th World Water Forum will be presented during the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16) in New York, with a special emphasis on its political dimension.

With more than 300 participating organizations, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the forum, which will be held in Istanbul from March 16 to 22, 2009, promises to garner unprecedented American and international interest surrounding global water issues.

Water conservation and management are massive global concerns. According to the U.N. Environment Program, two out of every three people on Earth will live in water-stressed conditions by the year 2025 if present consumption patterns continue. Moreover, sustainability is a fast-growing problem that is directly affected by most global environmental issues, such as pollution, population growth, land use changes, and climate change. Without worldwide efforts toward sustainability, more extreme and devastating events are expected to occur.

At least 36 U.S. states will face water shortages within the next five years, according to U.S. government estimates. "This is of great significance to not only the world, but for the United States in particular, because it will be responsible for more than 10 percent of the global household water consumption in 2025," says Ahmet Mete Saatci, leading water expert and vice secretary general of the Istanbul Forum. "The United States' water consumption is currently about 262 liters per capita per day, leaving room for improvement when compared to exemplary countries like Denmark, which consumes about 150 liters per capita."

"The ultimate goal of the 5th World Water Forum Istanbul 2009 is to motivate action to improve the management of water resources in the world, by raising awareness of the importance of water-related issues," says Forum Ambassador Klaus Topfer. "Collective awareness must be backed up by proper legislation, funding, governance and empowerment, all of which are promoted through the forum."

An estimated 20,000 participants are expected to attend the 5th World Water Forum, with approximately 100 sessions. Attendees will include varied public: water users, water professionals, activists, government officials, parliamentarians, local authorities, UN representatives, and other interested parties.

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