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Past Program

Oct 16 - Oct 23, 2002

The Politics of Water - Addressing Fresh Water Scarcity

Session 404

Abstract

Fresh water is unquestionably the most vital environmental resource we have – quite simply, life cannot be sustained without it – and it is becoming ever more scarce. It is estimated that in the next 15 – 25 years nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas lacking access to sufficient amounts of fresh water. Access to water is as much an issue of politics and policy as of science. Current irrigation systems are wasteful, conservation measures are improving but still inadequate, and pollution limits the use of some key resources. There is potential for serious intra- and inter-regional conflict in areas where the use of limited resources is under dispute.

 

The sheer magnitude of the problem and the complicated issues surrounding shared control of vital resources may be reasons that the issue has not been elevated to a priority in most governments, which leaves international bodies and local authorities in competition for management and decision-making power. This session will bring together leaders from the scientific, environmental, government, academic, security, and business communities to consider ways to elevate water scarcity to an issue of global priority and to explore possible solutions. Together they will discuss the diverse causes and impacts of fresh water scarcity at the local, national, and international levels, and seek ways to make water a sustainable resource for the 21st Century.