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NEWS: 20 former world leaders outline their global water vision

A media release from the InterAction Council states, “Former heads of government from around the world today agreed at a meeting in Canada to establish a new panel to help fill a serious void in leadership related to global water issues. …The 20 members of the InterAction Council attending this year’s three-day annual meeting in Quebec City, include former US President Bill Clinton, former Mexican President Vicente Fox and former prime ministers Yasuo Fukuda (Japan) and Gro Brundtland (Norway). Co-chairing the meeting: former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and former Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky.”

The InterAction Council says the “new panel” is needed because, “International water leadership is virtually nonexistent. Political will, financial resources, good governance and public education are lacking. It is for that reason that the InterAction Council will establish a panel on the global water issues, building on the positive examples of the Singapore International Water Week, the Stockholm Water Conference, the World Water Council and other similar initiatives.”

Their media release continues, “At (the May 31) conclusion of the meeting, the group urged a new international water ethic and offered political office-holders today some 21 recommendations for world water management moving forward. Recommendations include ‘placing water at the forefront of the global political agenda,’ linking climate change research and adaptation programs to water issues, making the right to water legally enforceable, raising the price of water to reflect its economic value while making provisions for people in poverty, preferring the growth of food over biofuel crops in places where water supplies are threatened, and encouraging the UN Security Council to take up water as a security concern.”

While the media release notes ‘some 21 recommendations’, there are only 17 listed in the group’s final communique on their website and that list doesn’t include ‘making the right to water legally enforceable’ (unless it falls under ‘supporting and advancing the UN international water protocols’). The recommendations are as follows:

1. Placing water at the forefront of the global political agenda and linking climate change research and adaptation programs to water issues.

2. Urging national governments to price water sources to appropriately reflect its economic value, while making provisions for those in poverty.

3. Urging national governments to stimulate private and public sector innovation to address the global water crisis and capitalize on the economic opportunities that arise from finding solutions to these complex challenges.

4. Asserting that where water supplies are threatened, water used to grow food should not be substituted for water to grow crops for biofuel production.

5. Encouraging increased investment in urgently needed sanitation coverage and improved access to safe water supply globally.

6. Welcoming the work done by the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, which aims to rebuild housing in Haiti with adequate sanitation to avoid public health disasters through water contamination.

7. Supporting ratification of the UN Watercourses Convention and the development of the draft articles on transboundary aquifers.

8. Supporting and advancing the UN international water protocols.

9. Encouraging a discussion on water security at the UN Security Council.

10. Linking of agricultural and water policy with energy policy locally, nationally, and globally.

11. Encouraging the development of materials and water treatment approaches to enable non-traditional water use in domestic, industrial, and in energy generation and refining applications and in particular research on more cost-effective desalinization integrated with renewable energy resources.

12. Renewing local, national, and international focus on monitoring hydrological processes and increased attention to mapping and monitoring of groundwater.

13. Urging national governments and multi-national companies to improve water availability assessment, energy and water systems analysis, and decision tools

14. Urging national governments to reduce the loss of water in public networks through adequate monitoring and infrastructure development, as well as the per capita consumption in municipal use.

15. Supporting the conservation of the world’s intact freshwater ecosystems, the establishment of ecological sustainability boundaries, and investment in ecosystem restoration.

16. Encouraging high-level dialogue and cooperation on water-allocation in major transboundary rivers such as discussions between Indochina states on the Mekong River.

17. Welcoming the role of NGOs in the further development of water governance solutions and particularly emphasizing the role of women, given their special responsibility for water.

The final communique can be read at http://interactioncouncil.org/final-communiqu-42.

Agence France Presse coverage on the outcome of the InterAction meeting is at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h86P6LBoooypADAGfYwWsGGd06wA?docId=CNG.4731b3aba4df7bc97fe661f788f35488.1111.