World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) - Can WWAP save people from global water crisis?

Mr Yoshiyuki Imamura

Tuesday, 13th August, 2002; 7:30-9:30pm

Munby Room, King's College

In recent years, the international community's interest in water issues has seen rapid growth in intensity. In 1987, in response to this heightened interest, the Brundtland Commission (The World Commission on Environment and Development), proposed "sustainable development" to the world, and identified water as a key issue amongst global environmental concerns in its report "Our Common Future".

At the Water and Environment Conference held in Dublin in 1992, discussions of water and environmental issues were extensive. Later that year, at the Earth Summit (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the importance of securing fresh water resources was advocated. This attention in the 1990s to water issues was tempered by the global realization by experts that international co-operation on water issues was proving inadequate to the task of responding to disasters including frequent droughts and resultant desertification, large-scale floods and the pollution of both surface and underground water. There was also global realization that the world's limited water resources were being badly managed, and that a mechanism was needed particularly to bring together professionals from all water-related disciplines and, in addition, to gather all water resource stakeholders.

It was in that atmosphere that, at the urging of the Commission on Sustainable Development and with the strong endorsement by the Ministerial Conference at The Hague in March 2000, a collective UN system-wide continuing assessment process, the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), was launched.

The growing global water crisis threatens the security, stability and environmental sustainability of developing nations. Millions die each year from water-borne diseases, while water pollution and ecosystem destruction grow, particularly in the developing world. In its recent Millennium Declaration, the UN called on the nations of the world "to halve by the year 2015 (...) the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water" and "to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources, by developing water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels, which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies". Currently there is no global system in place to produce a systematic, continuing, integrated and comprehensive global picture of freshwater and its management.

How WWAP has been grown and is expected to be developed is presented.