JUNE 2005

IAP Workshop on "Management of fresh water reserves and access to safe drinking water"

Some 20 experts from around the world met in Trieste on 28-29 May to discuss how the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) could develop an effective strategy for addressing one of the world's most pressing problems: access to safe drinking.
One billion people worldwide currently do not have access to clean drinking water and nearly 2 billion do not have adequate sanitation facilities," says José Tundisi, president of the Ecology International Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, and chair of the IAP Water Programme. "The problem, moreover, is getting worse due to population growth, increased urbanization, climate change and rising demand for water to meet the needs of growing food production and manufacturing.
"The balance between demand and supply," says Tundisi, "is slowly but surely tipping against sustainability."

Conference participants ended the two-day meeting by outlining a plan for future action that included:
- Devising an effective programme for capacity building, led by IAP-member science academies, that would focus on training the next generation of water experts.
- Assisting academies in efforts to inform decision makers and the public on critical issues related to water.
- Sharing information on best practices in water conservation and use.
- Building centres of excellence in water research and management, especially in Africa.

As a first step in this process, the IAP, led by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, will produce a report assessing the capacities and needs of science academies worldwide. The report will be distributed this autumn.

For additional information about IAP water programme, contact José Tundisi, jg.iie@iie.com.br.


Background information to the IAP programme ...

There is an emerging water crisis in many regions of the world. Today, about one-third of the world's population is living under moderate or severe water stress, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa. One billion three hundred million people lack access to adequate supply of safe water and two billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Water pollution is continuing to cause millions of preventable deaths every year, especially among children.

The challenges of this crisis require a vigorous scientific, technological and managerial action in order to use existing supplies more adequately, recover degraded surfaces and groundwater reserves, and secure water resources for future generations. To cope with this problem, IAP will develop a global project, aimed at the regional improvement of existing programmes on water conservation, wastewater treatment, control of eutrophication and contamination, as well as the development of strong scientific and technical capacities.

A major aspect of the programme will be capacity building and networking of researchers. As initial steps to the initiative - for an initial two year frame - four areas are foreseen where IAP will concentrate the funding which has been allocated to this programme. These are:

- Web-page development and maintenance

- Disclosure and publications

- Operational Expenses:

- Regional Capacity Building Workshops:

IANAS (InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences): The science academies of the Americas have decided to establish a regional programme to aid national governments in addressing the issue of access to clean water. The challenges of water scarcity require a vigorous scientific, technological and managerial action in order to: adequately and better use the existing supplies; recover degraded surfaces and groundwater reserves; and secure for the future generations the necessary water resources. To face this situation, it is necessary to improve programmes of conservation and to provide scientific and technological tools to assure a more rational use of the water supplies. The Brazilian and the Mexican Academies of Sciences will coordinate this programme. For more on IANAS, follow link to "capacity building for academies".