Wednesday, March 22, 2006

World Water Forum

Mexico City! Yeah, I want to see it for myself. It'd be lovely. But in the mean time on something more important:

Experts from around the world gathered in Mexico City Wednesday for a forum intended to increase people´s access to what, after air, is the most essential element of human life on Earth: fresh water.

Officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations from more than 100 nations will be taking part in the fourth World Water Forum. The forum will stress the value of public policies based on practices that have proved successful at the local level.

"Each country will decide how to apply (the accords reached), but the exchange (of views) has been so good that it will lead to important changes," the event´s thematic coordinator, Ricardo Martínez, said in an interview with EFE.

This year´s gathering, which runs from Thursday through next Wednesday at Mexico City´s Banamex Center, is the first to be held in the Americas.

The inaugural forum took place in Morocco in 1997, followed by conferences in The Hague (2000) and the Japanese city of Kyoto (2003).

The overarching theme for the conclave in Mexico City will be "Local Actions for a Global Challenge," with discussions on the role of water in economic development, more efficient provision of the resource, managing water in an environmentally sound manner and averting water-related natural disasters, among other topics.

In a report released last week, the United Nations said that some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack adequate access to safe drinking water.

While barely 500 people turned up in Marrakech for the first World Water Forum, more than 320 separate government agencies, NGOs and other entities are sending delegates to Mexico City to represent the diverse and sometimes conflicting interests of billions of stakeholders, or at least the best-organized ones.

The 2006 gathering will feature numerous parallel activities, such as a meeting of lawmakers, a children´s forum, a business-oriented Global Water Expo and a Water Fair aimed at civil society.

The political centerpiece will be a ministerial-level summit over the last two days of the forum, with nearly 90 nations expected to take part.

Though non-binding, the forum´s final document "will have an impact on the public policies of every one of the participating countries," Martínez said.

Inaugurating the event will be President Vicente Fox, Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jetou, Japan´s Crown Prince Naruhito and the heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem Alexander.

Among the notables scheduled to take part in discussions are tycoon Carlos Slim - Latin America´s richest man - and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry, Mario Molina.

In the realm of officialdom, the troupes of international bureaucrats will be joined by several big-city mayors and by U.S. military officers who plan to recount their experiences coping with the flooding of New Orleans last August in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

While acknowledging that anti-globalization activists will make their presence felt in Mexico City, Martínez said organizers did everything they could to incorporate the widest-possible range of views within the forum itself.

He said organizations representing civil society make up more than one-fifth of the groups taking part in the fourth World Water Forum.

Reference: World Water Forum,
Tags: World, Water, Forum,

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