“Leaders preparing for the World Water Forum in 2009 pleaded Tuesday for rich nations to make universal access to clean water a top priority, calling it one of the world's most pressing challenges. ‘The lack of water or its poor quality causes 10 times more deaths than all the wars waged on this planet together,’ said Loic Fauchon, President of the World Water Council, speaking at the forum's initial preparatory meeting in Istanbul. Fauchon called for development of policies that relied on ‘man's genius and his capability to invent new solutions,’ saying it had become a moral imperative to place water at the center of the public and political debate. Fauchon suggested solutions would be found in technological development such as processes that might be able to tap water buried deep in the earth, separate water from salt, and transport fresh water over great distances. … Fauchon warned necessary actions wouldn't be without cost. … Hilmi Guler, Turkey's Minister of Energy and Water Issues, said the forum, which was devised to be the world's preeminent think-tank on water issues, would be an opportunity for countries to discuss common problems and work toward common and equitable solutions. Guler said he expected 20,000 participants at the 2009 meeting, a number that would match the last forum held in Mexico City in 2006. The forum is held every three years. …” [Dow Jones/Factiva]
In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Fauchon warned that “… ‘Because the stories about global warming are more spectacular, it's true that the public started to forget about the water shortage problem.’ … According to Fauchon, climate change and water scarcity are two interrelated issues. The exact implications of climate evolution over the water resources are not well known. ‘However, what we know and what worries us a lot is that in 20 years time, there will be 60 mega cities of 10 million or more habitants about the size of Istanbul; most will be in poor countries with no financial or technical capacity to solve water and sanitation problems,’ warned Fauchon … . According to Fauchon there are thousands of ‘sanitation bombs’ that are ‘thrown below the table, waiting to explode in 10–20 years time.’ Without water, you have pollution, with pollution comes epidemics and when you have an epidemic that starts in a mega city you don't know where it will stop; warned Fauchon. Water shortage is also at the root of the immigration issue; an acute problem the world tries to tackle. ‘If you have no water, you have no energy, no energy, no development. We take the luggage and we leave. Think about one part of Africa immigrating to Europe,’ said the French water expert. …” [Turkish Daily News/Factiva]
IN related news, AFP notes that “Five rivers in Asia serving over 870 million people are among the most threatened in the world, as dams, water extraction and climate change all take their toll, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Tuesday. The Yangtze, Salween-Nu, Indus, Ganges and Mekong-Lancang rivers make up half of the WWF's ‘top ten’ most threatened river basins, which ‘either already suffer most grievously under the weight of these threats or are bracing for the heaviest impacts,’ the organization said. … [A] WWF report [launched ahead of World Water Day] highlighted water extraction, dams, and climate change as the most wide-ranging threats that will have the most impact on people, though invasive species and pollution also pose serious problems. … [Director of WWF's Global Freshwater Program, Jamie Pittock] warned of ‘dire consequences’ if the situation is left unchecked, with increasing risk of conflict over access to water, as well as the spread of disease and a fall in nutrition standards. …” [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
The Guardian adds that “… A wasteful attitude to water use and inadequate protection of rivers has destroyed ecosystems while threatening the livelihoods of people living in river basins. … Rivers are the world's main source of fresh water and, according to the WWF, almost half of the world's supply is currently being tapped. … The world's longest river, the Nile, has served as a source of drinking water for thousands of years but, according to the WWF, it will face scarcity by 2025. … The Rio Grande, which flows along the US-Mexican border and contains 69 fish species found nowhere else in the world, is threatened by excessive extraction of water, mainly for agriculture. … [Tom Le Quesne, freshwater policy officer at WWF-UK] said that problems highlighted by the WWF report have been man-made. Impending climate change will just make things worse. …” [The Guardian (UK)/Factiva.