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Nat Resour Forum. 1997;21(3):181-90.

Sustainable water future with global implications: everyone's responsibility.


The current use and management of freshwater is not sustainable in many countries and regions of the world. If current trends are maintained, about two-thirds of the world's population will face moderate to severe water stress by 2025 compared to one-third at present. This water stress will hamper economic and social development unless action is taken to deal with the emerging problems. The Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World, prepared by the UN and the Stockholm Environment Institute, calls for immediate action to prevent further deterioration of freshwater resources. Although most problems related to water quantity and quality require national and regional solutions, only a global commitment can achieve the necessary agreement on principles, as well as financial means to attain sustainability. Due to the central and integrated role played by water in human activities, any measures taken need to incorporate a wide range of social, ecological and economic factors and needs. The Assessment thus addresses the many issues related to freshwater use, such as integrated land and water management at the watershed level, global food security, water supply and sanitation, ecosystem requirements, pollution, strengthening of major groups, and national water resource assessment capabilities and monitoring networks. Governments are urged to work towards a consensus regarding global principles and guidelines for integrated water management, and towards their implementation in local and regional water management situations. The alternative development options available to countries facing water stress, or the risk thereof, needs to be considered in all aspects of development planning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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