PROGRAMME 2: WATER
18. Introducing the water programme, the Assistant Executive Director stated
that it concentrated on assessment, management, development and protection.
19. Several representatives expressed their satisfaction with the Executive Director's proposal that the problem of water should be one of the six priority areas of the programme.
20. One representative suggested that after the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD) ended in 1990, water quality and access to water should be emphasized. She added that the issue of access to water included the mobilization of resources, recycling of water and spread of information, stating that the International Training Centre for Water Resources Management (CEFIGRE) could help in spreading information. She emphasized the need for co-operation between UNEP and other United Nations organizations and regional bodies.
21. One representative observed that the Volta river basin had been selected as one of the priority areas by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and stated that the time had come to take action on that basin. one representative drew attention to the need for international assistance with water resource problems in his country and informed the Committee that programmes on forest recovery for watershed protection had begun.
22. One representative proposed that higher priority be given to a series of
issues: water resource management at the national level, social and economic pressures on water resources, the increased awareness of water problem through water management training, and the detection and removal of toxic chemicals from water and sediment. Speaking of the GEMS/Water programme, he stressed the importance of water quality monitoring to detect long-term and global trends and noted the current proposals to update the programme. He suggested that assessment and monitoring should be strengthened, as recommended in the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, adding that bilateral aid agencies should consider providing financial assistance to the global water assessment programme.
23. One representative suggested placing greater emphasis on the problems of restoring levels in groundwater aquifers in arid areas, the re-use of waste water, and water supply and sanitation. He expressedsatisfaction with the work of the GEKS/Water programme, but proposed that the current number of water quality determinants be reduced to three or four so that developing countries could manage the monitoring themselves. He pointed out that such a decrease, coupled with an increase in GEMS monitoring stations, would improve understanding of the global water situation.24. The representative of Lesotho, speaking for the country charged with executing the Zambezi Action Plan (ZACPLAN) on behalf of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC). thanked UNEP for its interest in the Zambezi river basin, endorsed its views concerning ZACPLAN and looked forward to further assistance, not only from UNEP, but other organizations as well. He also informed the Committee that a feasibility study was being completed by the Scandinavian countries and appealed to other donors for financial assistance for ZACPLAN.
25. Stressing the importance of water in life support systems, one representative stated that population growth and migration to urban areas posed serious threats to water resources in developing countries. Because those countries could not deal with the problem alone, he suggested further co-operation between UNEP and WHO to strengthen water supply and sanitation programmes.
26. Another representative, supporting the priority given to water problems,
emphasized the importance of drinking water.
27. The observers for UNESCO and WHO welcomed the high priority given to water problems by the Executive Director and expressed their organizations' willingness to continue co-operating with UNEP.
28. The observer for WHO informed the Committee that following IDWSSD, his organization, like others, would continue its activities in this area, but with somewhat broader scope and greater emphasis on water quality and the control of pollution. He highlighted the importance of the GEMS/Water programme with regard to public health as well as environmental protection.
29. The Deputy Assistant Executive Director, office of the Environment Programme, noted the high level of co-operation among the organizations of the United Nations system in water programmes and said that co-operation was equally necessary among Governments, especially in the management of international water bodies. Responding to a question, he informed the Committee that UNEP's role in ZACPLAN after its finalisation was to monitor and assist in its implementation. Regarding the question of the Volta river basin, he said that action priorities concerning African water bodies were decided by the A14CEN Committee on River and Lake Basins (CORLAB).