United Nations, 21 March, (IPS): When U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last January, his primary focus was not on the impending global economic recession but on the world’s growing water crisis.
“A shortage of water resources could spell increased conflicts in the future,” he told the annual gathering of business tycoons, academics and leaders from governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.
“Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon,” he warned.
Anders Berntell, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, says the lack of safe drinking water for over 1.0 billion people worldwide, and the lack of safe sanitation for over 2.5 billion, “is an acute and devastating humanitarian crisis.”
“But this is a crisis of management, not a water crisis per se, because it is caused by a chronic lack of funding and inadequate understanding of the need for sanitation and good hygiene at the local level,” Berntell told IPS.
He said: “This can and must be fixed through improved governance and management, and increased funding, and sustained efforts to achieve the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” which include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and adequate water and sanitation.
A U.N. study released on the eve of World Water Day Mar. 22 says the lack of safe drinking water is not confined to the world’s poorer nations; it also threatens over 100 million Europeans.
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