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         3 April 2001

The United Nations University (UNU) - in partnership with the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) and the 3rd World Water Forum Secretariat - will co-organize a series of meetings that highlight critical issues for the management of global water resources. The first meeting, to be held at the UN House in Tokyo on 4 and 5 April, will focus on synthesizing global water assessments into information for the World Water Development Report (WWDR). The second meeting, in the afternoon of 6 April at the ANA Hotel, will be a public symposium on human water stewardship.

A growing water crisis threatens security, stability and environmental sustainability worldwide. Particularly in the developing world, millions die each year from water-borne diseases, while water pollution and ecosystem destruction continue to grow. In its recent Millennium Declaration, the United Nations called on the nations of the world to "halve by 2015 the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water" and to "stop the unmanageable exploitation of water resources."

In response to the global water crisis, the UNU has focused its projects on issues dealing with the management of water as a resource - particularly across national boundaries - and the evaluation of water quality in coastal areas. A recent study by the UNU has developed new methodologies for treating the water contamination by arsenic, a problem now faced by millions in Bangladesh and India.

The WWAP secretariat, co-organizer of the meetings, is currently hosted by UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris. Building on the achievements of many previous endeavours, the WWAP focuses on assessing freshwater resources throughout the world. The primary output of the WWAP will be the biennial World Water Development Report. The public symposium will introduce the WWAP to local audiences with the aim of raising awareness about the global water crisis and the need for urgent and concrete actions to solve it.

Participation in the WWAP Synthesis Meeting on 4 and 5 April is by invitation only. The "Human Water Stewardship" symposium at the ANA Hotel on 6 April, however, is open to the public. A copy of the programme is attached. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend.

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For further information please contact:
The UNU Public Affairs Section: Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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