Thursday, June 9, 2011

World Water Crisis? Apparently so..

Twenty former heads of state, including former US president Bill Clinton, met in Quebec, Canada May 29-31, 2011 as the InterAction Council and warned of an impending "water crisis".  The group (whose full membership listing is not yet available on their website) discussed several issues - including water.  In regard to their water deliberations, they agreed to establish a panel to tackle the worldwide leadership gap on water issues. They also urged a new international water ethic and offered a number of recommendations for world water management entities, including:

Placing water at the forefront of the global political agenda and linking climate change research and adaptation programs to water issues.

Urging national governments to price water sources to appropriately reflect its economic value, while making provisions for those in poverty.

Urging national governments to stimulate private and public sector innovation to address the global water crisis and capitalize on the economic opportunities that arise from finding solutions to these complex challenges.

Asserting that where water supplies are threatened, water used to grow food should not be substituted for water to grow crops for biofuel production.

Encouraging increased investment in urgently needed sanitation coverage and improved access to safe water supply globally.

Welcoming the work done by the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, which aims to rebuild housing in Haiti with adequate sanitation to avoid public health disasters through water contamination.

Supporting ratification of the UN Watercourses Convention and the development of the draft articles on transboundary acquifers.

Supporting and advancing the UN international water protocols.

Encouraging a discussion on water security at the UN Security Council.

Linking of agricultural and water policy with energy policy locally, nationally, and globally.

Encouraging the development of materials and water treatment approaches to enable non-traditional water use in domestic, industrial, and in energy generation and refining applications and in particular research on more cost-effective desalinization integrated with renewable energy resources.

Renewing local, national, and international focus on monitoring hydrological processes and increased attention to mapping and monitoring of groundwater.

Urging national governments and multi-national companies to improve water availability assessment, energy and water systems analysis, and decision tools.

Urging national governments to reduce the loss of water in public networks through adequate monitoring and infrastructure development, as well as the per capita consumption in municipal use.

Supporting the conservation of the world’s intact freshwater ecosystems, the establishment of ecological sustainability boundaries, and investment in ecosystem restoration.

Encouraging high-level dialogue and cooperation on water-allocation in major transboundary rivers such as discussions between Indochina states on the Mekong River.

Welcoming the role of NGOs in the further development of water governance solutions and particularly emphasizing the role of women, given their special responsibility for water.

I can't argue with many of the recommendations, but a few have me scratching my head.   In my "world view" (which isn't necessarily right) the key to creating a legal right to water is keeping the cost low enough to make access and distribution to the under served (usually the impoverished) a reality.  That's hard to do if you raise the price of water to reflect its economic value. Of course, their recommendation is qualified with "..while making provisions for those in poverty."  This probably means those not in poverty will have to agree to a cost of water well above the real economic value of water. 

In areas where water is rationed, they urge water priorities for food crops and not bio-fuels. This seems to me...

You know, come to think of it, every one of these recommendations could serve as a unique blog entry that's going to get out of hand in a hurry. Why don't you pick out your favorite one and offer a comment response to it below.  Quite frankly, I'd rather hear what you think...   

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