Next Week's Stockholm Water Symposium is last major global water forum before UN development summit in South Africa

Aug. 6, 2002
The Stockholm Water Symposium, scheduled for next week, will tackle issues on providing adequate drinking water, sanitation, industrial treatment and irrigation for a growing world.

Aug. 6, 2002 -- To feed the planet's 8 billion inhabitants in 2025, the world will need as much extra water simply for food production as is currently in use for - but not yet satisfying - our drinking, sanitation, industrial and irrigation needs.

From where will this new water come? That question will be explored August 12 - 15 by attendees at the 2002 Stockholm Water Symposium, Balancing Competing Water Uses - Present Status and New Prospects.

Participants will make an active contribution to global water discussions through release of a Stockholm Statement explaining water's role as an engine for development and intended for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 3rd World Water Forum in Japan in 2003.

On the eve of the South African meeting, where water is one of five priority issues, experts and stakeholders in Stockholm will analyze water use issues, discuss how to go from "knowing" to "doing," and give examples of water balancing in practice.

We Cannot Invent More Water "Prioritization between different water uses is getting necessary, since in some regions water supply can only be marginally increased for hydrologic and/or economic reasons," says Professor Malin Falkenmark, Stockholm International Water Institute.

"Massive development projects such as dam building and irrigation construction are not always the answer any more; we must learn to balance internally the competing interests of water users to meet all needs."

Water - More Urgent Than Climate Change

Today, individuals and institutions focus on water services and water resources management. Tomorrow, we will need to feed a growing humanity and fill the hunger gap of poverty-stricken populations.

Since the global population grows by 70 million each year -- mostly in developing, water-scarce countries -- water-related challenges for people, food and the environment are more challenging than effects of climate change several decades from now. The water scarcity is obvious recently; the effects of climate change will exacerbate the situation in the future.

Specific issues for discussion at the Symposium include water's catalyzing role for development, water pollution abatement by industry, the relation between water poverty alleviation and social programs, criteria for priorities between competing water interests, water pricing, the water-energy relationship and urban water dynamics.

Radical Shift in Thinking Required

Overcoming prevailing wisdom on water and development among politicians, scientists and others will be both the focus of a special panel debate during the Symposium as well as a prevailing undercurrent.

"Policies and practices that worked for 2 billion largely rural people don't work for 6 billion increasingly urban residents and won't work for 2 billion more," Prof. Falkenmark adds. Today, over 1.1 billion people lack satisfactory access to safe drinking water and another 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation.

As a direct result, some five million people die annually from preventable water borne diseases - 10 times the number killed in wars around the globe. One-third of the world's population live in countries currently facing a water shortage, a number that could increase to two-thirds (or about 6 billion people) by 2025.

Besides human suffering, the planet's ecological base is at risk through permanent destruction, or "hydrocide," of it's bloodstream -- water. Symposium stakeholders will discuss how to create, instead, a "hydrosolidarity" between different users such as upstream-downstream, rich and poor, North and South, industry and agriculture, man and nature, and more.

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