• France edition
 

Time to tackle water crisis, global forum told

Published: 12 Mar 2012 14:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Mar 2012 14:16 GMT+01:00

A global meeting on water opened in France on Monday with demands to provide billions of poor people with clean water and decent sanitation and address the spiralling demands of the future.

"The challenges are huge and the problems are deep-rooted," French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said as he opened the sixth World Water Forum in the southern city of Marseille.

"The number of human beings who have no access to clean water is in the billions. Each year, we mourn millions of dead from the health risks that this causes. This situation is not acceptable -- the world community must rise and tackle it."

The World Water Forum, held every three years, gathers policymakers, big corporations and non-governmental organisations.

As many as 20,000 participants from 140 countries are expected for the six-day event, including scores of ministers for the environment and water and a scattering of heads of state from francophone west Africa.

Separately, a massive UN report, issued only once every three years, said water problems in many parts of the world were chronic.

Without a crackdown on waste will worsen as demand for food rises and climate change intensifies, it said.

"Pressures on freshwater are rising, from the expanding needs of agriculture, food production and energy consumption to pollution and the weaknesses of water management," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the report.

"Climate change is a real and growing threat. Without good planning and adaptation, hundreds of millions of people are at risk of hunger, disease, energy shortages and poverty."

Demand for food will increase by some 70 percent by 2050, which will lead to a nearly 20 percent increase in global agricultural water consumption, the UN's Fourth World Water Development Report said.

Abstraction of aquifers has at least tripled in the past 50 years and now supplies almost half of all drinking water today. "In some hotspots, the availability of non-renewable groundwater resources has reached critical limits," the report said.

The report demanded an overhaul in the use of water, especially by curbing waste. Smarter irrigation, less thirsty crops and the use of "grey," or used water, to flush toilets are among the options.

Already, more than 2.5 billion people are in need of decent sanitation and nearly one in 10 has yet to gain access to "improved" drinking water, as defined under the UN's 2015 development goals.

Ministers attending the forum will issue a non-binding statement on Tuesday affirming their awareness of the problems and intent to fix them.

Looking ahead to the "Rio plus 20" summit in June, Fillon stood by France's plan to create a World Environment Organisation, an idea opposed by the United States.

"What is at stake here is the historic change of our societies from a development that is economically efficient but environmentally destructive to a model that combines economic development, the fair sharing of resources among the region's of the glob and the preservation of ecosystems," said Fillon.

The water forum is shunned by some environmentalists or development activists, who deride it as a trade fair lacking democracy and transparency.

An alternative forum is being staged elsewhere in Marseille by 2,000 members of civil society from Europe, the United States, Latin America and Africa.

"Water cannot be solely determined by politicians, financiers and technicians," organisers of the rival forum said in a statement. "Every woman and every man, whatever his responsibilities, must take part in decision-making, contributing to the protection of water and ensuring fair access to it."

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France bids to cut EU's reliance on Russian gas
A view of the Russian gas giant Gazprom's recently built Adler thermal power plant. France wants to cut Europe's reliance on Russian gas. Photo: Yuri Kabodnov/AFP

France bids to cut EU's reliance on Russian gas

As the Ukraine crisis intensifes and threatens to divide Russia from the West, France and Poland made a joint call for a European-wide energy union that would help reduce dependence on Russian gas supplies. READ () »

Family pretend to be French to rob jewellers
Pretending to be French to rob a jewellers. That's a new one. Photo: Shutterstock

Family pretend to be French to rob jewellers

A family managed to steal €180,000 worth of jewellery from a plush shop in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo. Their modus operandi: pretending to be French to give off an air of sophistication. READ () »

Neo-Nazi Hitler party shocks French village
Scores of neo-Nazis descended on a tranquil French village. The local mayor had no idea what he had let himself in for. Photo: Scott Olsen/AFP

Neo-Nazi Hitler party shocks French village

The mayor of a small village in eastern France was forced to explain this week how he ended up giving the green light for a neo-Nazi party commemorating the 125th anniversiary of Hitler’s birth. The mayor said he presumed it was just going to be an ordinary birthday party. READ () »

One in five French workers is a civil servant
France's population of civil servants has continued to grow. Photo: Crowd.

One in five French workers is a civil servant

New data out this week shows France’s civil service has continued its nearly unbroken chain of growth since 1980. The figures, however, leave out a whole swath of people who are also on the government payroll. READ () »

French taxi wars: New plan to end bitter feud
A new proposal seeks to end the French taxi war. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

French taxi wars: New plan to end bitter feud

An eagerly awaited series of proposed reforms were due out on Thursday aimed at ending the ongoing war between highly regulated taxi drivers and private hire car firms, which has wrought havoc on French roads. The proposals seek to make the rules fairer for both sides. READ () »

Ukraine crisis
France to send fighter jets to patrol Baltics
France is to send four fighter jets to patrol over the Baltics, in a show of solidarity as tension mounts of Russia's agression i nthe Ukraine. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP

France to send fighter jets to patrol Baltics

France is sending four of its fighter jets to patrol over the Baltic states in a symbolic show of solidarity amid growing anxiety in the region over Russia's intervention in Ukraine. President François Hollande is also set to pay a visit to Georgia in the coming weeks. READ () »

French minister Royal denies ban on cleavage
Ségolène Royal has reportedly banned women in her ministry from wearing low cut tops at work. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

French minister Royal denies ban on cleavage

Ségolène Royal, France’s new minister for the environment has been forced to deny reports on Thursday that she had introduced some strict new rules for her staff, including a ban on women wearing low cut tops at work. READ () »

France and Canada renew feud over islands
St Pierre in the French archipelago of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, off the coast of Canada, which disputes France's claim on the island. Photo: Jean-Christophe L'Espagnol

France and Canada renew feud over islands

A longstanding feud over two French islands near Canada's Atlantic Coast was rekindled this week, when Ottawa contested Paris's request that the UN recognize its control of waters around Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon READ () »

Marijuana: 'Young adults risk fatal heart problems'
A study by French researchers concluded that young adults who smoke marijuana may increase risk of heart problems. Robyn Beck/AFP

Marijuana: 'Young adults risk fatal heart problems'

Young adults who smoke marijuana may be at risk of serious or even fatal heart problems, according to a study by French researchers published this week. The findings raise new concerns about the safety of marijuana. READ () »

Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park
Syrian refugees children and women sit on April 21, 2014 in the Edouard Vaillant parc in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park

Around 150 Syria refugees are living a desperate existence in a small park to the north of Paris. NGOs and France's Green party are urging authorities to do more to help the families while they wait for their asylum requests to be processed. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How to avoid a French wedding nightmare
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why sacked French ministers deserve no pity
Gallery
How well do you know your French text message lingo?
National
Divorced from reality? French plan for puppy custody laws
Travel
'Burgundy is for wine not wind': Will wind farms ruin famous wine region?
National
Why does France have a record number of people behind bars?
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
Advertisement:
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se