• Forum exposes alarming water crisis, calls for global water parliament
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Mar. 22, 2009 -- The 5th World Water Forum taking place in Istanbul, Turkey, closed today with a sense of urgency to address and deter the extreme water crisis plaguing the world. With record-breaking attendance, the Forum, a weeklong summit aimed at pushing the worldwide water crisis onto the international agenda, attracted heads of state and delegates from 155 countries and ended with a water declaration announced by 95 ministers and vice-ministers. The declaration recognizes the right to have access to improved water and sanitation, initiating an important step towards decreasing worldwide deaths related to water shortages.
"While we're thrilled with the success of the Forum which provided a platform to address the world's water issues, we cannot waste a second to take action to ensure our planet's survival," said Dr. Prof. Oktay Tabasaran, Secretary General of the Forum.
During the course of the week, the scope of the water crisis was presented and confronted. Eight million deaths a year are attributed to water and sanitation shortages which also limits more than one billion people from access to drinking water, reported the European Parliament. Africa faces the biggest challenge, remaining virtually unchanged in its progress since the 1980s, reported the United Nations in its World Water Development Report launched at the Forum. In an Islamic Ministers Meeting, attendees were reminded that over 1.1 billion people had no access to water, 2.6 billion people experienced sanitation problems and 3,900 babies died daily in Muslim countries because of lack of sufficient water.
In an effort to speed progress towards sustainability, the 5th World Water Forum, Istanbul blended three levels of political power, national governments, local authorities and parliaments, to facilitate common objectives and solutions, for the first time in Forum history. All three government levels converged in a specially organized 'trialogue,' where calls for a global water parliament were echoed at all levels. On a local level, 46 cities signed the Istanbul Water Consensus affirming their commitment to tackle water issues.
Istanbul is home to the Bosphorous, a critical waterway that separates two continents, Europe and Asia, and served as an ideal location to bring awareness to worldwide water issues.