World water crisis worsened by corruption, repression: UN report

20 February 2006 –

Corruption, restricted political rights and limited civil liberties are all factors that lie behind the planet’s growing water crisis, says a new United Nations report that focuses on the precious resource of fresh water.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today that the second edition of the UN World Water Development Report shows the global water crisis is largely a crisis of governing systems that “determine who gets what water, when and how, and decides who has the right to water and related services.”

The report will be released on 9 March in Mexico City by Gordon Young, Coordinator of the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), and Cristobal Jaime Jazquez, Director-General of the National Water Commission of Mexico.

Entitled “Water, a Share Responsibility,” the report builds on the conclusions of the first water development study published three years ago. It presents a comprehensive picture of freshwater resources in all regions and most countries as it tracks progress towards the water-related targets of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Known collectively as the MDGs, these targets were set at a 2000 UN Summit and aim to reduce major global ills such as poverty, illiteracy and hunger by 2015.

The report examines a variety of key issues, including population growth and increasing urbanization, changing ecosystems, food protection, health, industry and energy. It also looks at risk management and how water is valued and paid for. A set of conclusions and recommendations to guide future actions and encourage the sustainable use and management of the world’s increasing scarce freshwater resources are also included.

The UN World Water Development Report is a joint undertaking of 24 UN agencies in partnership with governments and other stakeholders and is produced on their behalf by the Water Assessment Programme, whose secretariat is hosted by UNESCO.

The second edition will be launched one week before the Fourth World Water Forum that will be held in Mexico City from March 16 to 22. The report will be formally presented by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.

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