International Forum to Tackle Challenges Facing Worlds Freshwater Resources Fri, Nov 28, 2014

Over 30 Ministers and Experts to Identify Solutions to a Range of Threats to Basins, Which Provide 60 Per Cent of Global Freshwater Flow

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity

Nairobi, 26 November 2014 - Governments from around the world, along with heads of national and international basin organizations and freshwater experts met this week in Nairobi to look at ways to strengthen the governance of freshwater basins and resources, which account for approximately 60 per cent of the global freshwater flow.

Freshwater is a fundamental environmental resource and essential for the sustainability of humanity and the world's ecosystems. Only 2.5 per cent of all the water on Earth is freshwater, and only 1 per cent is easily available for human use.

However, global freshwater resources are being depleted and polluted to an extent never before witnessed, posing a major threat to aquatic ecosystems, water security and habitats. According to UN Water research, by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world population potentially living in water stressed conditions.

Climate change will exacerbate the problems. More than one-sixth of the world's population lives in river basins fed by glacier or snow melt, and will be affected by seasonal shifts and increased water flows, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Higher water temperatures, increased precipitation intensity, and longer periods of droughts will exacerbate many forms of water pollution, with impacts on ecosystems, human health and water system reliability.

Existing governance structures provide, in most cases, legal and institutional frameworks for meeting human water demands, but they inadequately address the control of pollution and the protection of ecosystems key in the provision of water.

The first International Environment Forum for Basin Organizations will identify how legal, policy and institutional arrangements of basin organizations can be strengthened to effectively implement internationally agreed goals, such as environmental goals and objectives of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)- with a focus on opportunities arising from the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourse in August 2014.

It will also form resolutions on ways basin organizations can contribute substantially to the UN post-2015 development agenda.

The forum will bring together key stakeholders in the management of freshwater basins from all around the world such as ministers of water and the environment, heads of basins organizations, UN Agencies and other relevant international organizations, financial institutions, MEA Secretariats, civil society and academia.

Other expected outcomes include strengthened legal, policy, financial and institutional mechanisms to support basin organizations to meet environmental challenges, the identification of priority actions for protecting and restoring ecosystems in transboundary basins and the mobilization of political and other support for international cooperative frameworks.

The Forum is organized by UNEP, co-convened by the International Organization for Basin Organizations and supported by the following partners: Organization of American States, the Ramsar Convention, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Global Water Partnerships, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Water Convention, and The African Ministers' Council on Water and International Association for Water Law.

For more information:

Niamh Brannigan, Information Officer, UNEP News Desk, Tel + 254 71773348

E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

 
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