Responding to International Water Resource Problems

Worsening of Global Water Problems
With the rapid increase of population and the development of society and industry, many countries are facing a water shortage. A water shortage does not only result in a shortage of domestic water for people's lives, but also serious food shortages, impacts on eco systems and public health problems. Among other things, food shortages are particularly serious with about 800 million people currently suffering from malnutrition and the world will become in need of food to sustain 2.4 billion people by 2025 as a result of an increase in the percentage of developing countries. Various other problems are also emerging, including water pollution caused by insufficient sewage disposal capacity, an increasing number of people dwelling on floodprone lowland areas and resultant flood damage, etc., and there is growing concern that these problems including water shortages will become more serious in future due to the increase in the world population and the impact of climate change.
State of Water Stress

Water stress means the proportion of the water intake to the inventory of water resources (described in Page 2). When this exceeds 40%, it is said that a state of high water stress exists.

Japan's Consumption of Water in the World
It is estimated that tens of billions of cubic meters of water are used to produce the food that is imported to Japan in a year. As Japan is dependent on import for many goods including food, increasingly serious water problems in the world are of great concern to Japan. Japan’s experiences and technology in the water sector gained through social development have been utilized through numerous technical and financial assistance projects carried out in developing countries. It is necessary for Japan to pay more attention to and play an active role in the world's water problems.
Water resources affected by climate changes
The group II reports (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) released by the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (IPCC) in April 2007 states that climate changes from global warming etc. will greatly impact water resources of regions. By the middle of this century, annual average river flow rates and water availability will increase by 10 to 40% in high latitude regions and some humid tropical areas, while they will decrease by 10 to 30% in medium latitude regions and dry / dry tropical areas. In medium latitude regions and semi-dry low latitude regions, water availability will decrease and drought will increase, causing serious water shortages for several hundred millions of people.
Responding to international Water Resources Problems
International agreement on the world water problem

At present, 1.1 billion people in the world cannot have access to safe drinking water, while 2.6 billion people do not have adequate sanitary facilities. In the United Nations Millennium Summit of 2000 and Johannesburg Summit of 2002, the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) were established for reducing these figures by half by 2015.
Furthermore, the Johannesburg Summit Implementation plan dictates that Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and water efficiency plans are formulated especially in developing countries and also in all other countries.

International Efforts

International efforts for solving water problems were expressly made for the first time in the United Nations Water Conference held at Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1977. Later on, it was decided to proclaim the decade from 1981 to 1990 as the International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade, while Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, stated the goal of protecting the quality and supply of freshwater resources. Moreover, in 1993, in order to follow up the Earth Summit, "Water/Sanitation/Human settlements" were set as major challenges in 2004 (12th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development: CSD 12), 2005 (13th session of the same commission: CSD 13), and "written resolutions" concerning activities such as policy options and implementation plans were formulated. In 2008 (16th session of the same committee: CSD16), water and sanitation and details of interactive matters are scheduled to be monitored and followed.
Furthermore, in the United Nations General Assembly, it was resolved to proclaim the period from 2005 to 2015 as the "International Decade on Water for Life", and it was also resolved in December 2006 to declare the year 2008 "The International Year of Sanitation" to raise people's awareness of sanitation concerning lavatories and sewage disposal, where sluggish improvement has been pointed out, under Japan’s initiative.
In order to resolve international water problems, it is necessary for not only governments and international agencies but also people from various backgrounds to make concerted efforts. For this purpose, the World Water Council (WWC) was established in 1996 by governments, international agencies, academic representatives, corporations and NGOs to serve as a think tank that comprehensively handles water issues. The World Water Council holds the World Water Forum (WWF) every three years as part of its activity.
The First, Second and Third World Water Forums were hosted in Morocco in 1997, the Netherlands in 2000 and Japan in 2003 respectively. The Fourth is scheduled to be held in Mexico in 2006.

The fourth World Water Forum and the inauguration of the Asia Pacific Water Forum

The fourth World Water Forum was held for one week starting on March 16, 2006 in Mexico City (Mexico), in which 19,766 people representing 149 countries and regions of the world including Mr. Tetsuma Ezaki, then Vice-Minister for Land, Infrastructure and Transport participated.
The fourth World Water Forum was organized with "Local Actions for a Global Challenge" as its main theme. It was a proactive forum aiming at achieving the MDGs and resolving various water-related problems such as the third forum held in Japan (March 2003).
The "Portfolio of Water Actions (PWA)" gathering various water-related data and exemplary cases developed under Japan's initiative in the third forum was taken over as the Commission on Sustainable Development's Water Action Network Database (CSD WAND) by the UN, and is utilized in the water-related action of developing countries'. Furthermore, in the regional meeting of the fourth World Water Forum, a declaration to establish the non-profit network organization, "Asia Pacific Water Forum (APWF)", aiming to solve the water problems in Asia Pacific region, on September 27, 2006. "Asia Pacific Water Summit" is one of the major activities of APWF, and its first meeting was held successfully in December 2007 in Beppu City, Oita.

Outlines of the first Asia Pacific Water Summit
Asia Pacific Water Forum * First Asia Pacific Water Summit Steering Committee.
* Non-profit network organization: chairman: former prime minister Yoshiro Mori
To solve world water problems and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals in the Asia region by providing the ground for joint efforts through exchange of opinions on extensive subjects relating to water among members including high-level officials of national governments controlling water-related policies and delegates to the UN and recognition of the importance of water problems.
Program overview
  1. Period: December 3 (Mon) and 4 (Tue), 2007
  2. Venue: Beppu City, Oita
  3. Themes of discussion:

    (a) Water infrastructure and nurture of talents

    (b) Water-related disaster control

    (c) Water for evolution and eco-systems

  4. Expected participants and scale: High-level government officials including cabinet members and delegates to the UN from the Asia Pacific countries and regions, representatives from organizations pertaining to water, etc. 200 to 300 participants.
  5. Invited countries: 49 Asia Pacific countries (including Japan)
10 topic sessions held at the summit conference:
  • Climate Change, Glaciers, and Water Resources in the Himalayan Region
  • CEOs Mandate for Action in Water
  • Monitoring of Investment and Results in Water
  • Regional Launch of the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) 2008
  • The Small Islands' Dialogue on Water and Climate
  • Commitment for Ensuring Water Security in the Aral Sea Basin
  • Water-related Disaster Management
  • Water for Development and Ecosystems
  • Leadership for Ensuring Water Security in the Asia-Pacific Region: Knowledge, Financing, and Capacity Development
  • Increasing Capacity for Local Actions
Details of the participants:
  1. Participating countries / regions: 56 countries / regions (of which 40 countries / regions are from the Asia / Pacific region)
  2. Participants at the head of state level: 10 from 10 countries and regions
    Participants at the ministerial level: 32
    Participants at the level of ministers or higher from Asia / Pacific region: from 36 countries and regions
  3. Number of participants: 231 government-related participants from the Asia / Pacific region (of whom 226 are from abroad) plus
    140 invited participants, or 371 in total (of which 298 are from abroad)
  4. Participants anticipated to attend the opening ceremony: 880 (of whom about 300 are from abroad).
Main participants:
  • His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan
  • His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Chairman of United Nations, Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation
  • H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon: President, Republic of Tajikistan
  • H.E. Mr. Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr.: President, Republic of Palau
  • H.E. Mr. Anote Tong: President, Republic of Kiribati
  • H.E. Mr. Ludwig Scotty: President, Republic of Nauru
  • H.E. Mr. Emanuel Mori: Premier, Federated States of Micronesia
  • Hon. Mr. Mititaiagimene Young Vivian: Prime Minister, Niue
  • Hon. Mr. Apisai Ielemia: Prime Minister, Tuvalu
  • H.E. Lyonpo Dr. Kinzang Dorji: Prime Minister, Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan
  • H.E. Mr. Dosbol Nur ulu: Vice Prime Minister, Kyrgyz Republic
Network of Asian River Basin Organizations (NARBO)

NARBO, formed in February 2004, is an organ established to help achieve comprehensive water resources management in the Asia monsoon regions and comprises 56 organizations from 12 countries, as of February 2006, including river basin organizations, water-related governmental organs, university and research organs and international organs. Its headquarters and secretariat are located in the Japan Water Agency and it implements trainings, workshops and exchange promotion programs.

UN "Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation"

The UN “Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation” is one of the organs carrying out key activities to promote specific actions to resolve world water problems.
This Advisory Board is the consultative organ for the secretary-general of which establishment was announced by the United Nations Secretary-General Annan on the "World Day for Water" or March 22, 2004 to enhance global measures for water problems, which are expected to become key issues in eradicating poverty from the world and achieving sustainable development. (Its first chairman was the late Ryutaro Hashimoto, former prime minister of Japan)
The Advisory Board held intensive discussions over five sessions by March 2006 and developed "Compendium of Actions." (Later it was renamed to "Hashimoto Action Plan" in July 2006)
The "Hashimoto Action Plan" shows actions required to solve water problems envisaged by the world in six key areas, namely ① fund procurement, ② water enterprise partnership, ③ sanitation, ④ monitoring, ⑤ comprehensive water resource management, and ⑥ water and disaster. Incidentally, the 8th meeting was held in Shanghai in May 2007 with "Asian Region Dialog" as the theme and delegates from ten countries including Japan held active discussions about Asian water problems.

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