Activists fume as World Water Forum ends without protocolsMarch 22nd, 2009 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS
Istanbul, March 22 (DPA) Environmental activists expressed criticism Sunday with the end result of the World Water Forum, decrying a lack of binding protocols to safeguard the world’s freshwater supplies.
Ministers and delegation heads closed the fifth forum, an event held every three years, with promises to do more for the protection of water supplies.
But activists noted there was no agreement on a human right to freshwater, as agreed upon at the last forum in Mexico.
Martin Geiger, of the German branch of the WWF, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, said the closing agreement amounted to little more than a list of “non-binding platitudes”.
Similarly, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said ministers needed to focus more on broader questions of environmental protection.
Experts had spent much of the week at the conference warning about the consequences that will come if world governments do not take more efforts to conserve and regulate water use.
They further noted that large parts of the world’s population already lack access to clean water, causing illnesses and weighing down economies.
The week-long meeting of experts focused on access to freshwater, water rights and the role of new technologies. Most controversy during the week focused on the question of dam construction.
There were more than 20,000 participants at the forum, including representatives of international organisations from more than 100 countries. The event is sponsored by the World Water Council, a group made up of water specialists and international organisations.
Geiger did praise the fact that, during the forum, several nations agreed to sign a UN convention on the management of water resources that cross international borders. He said 19 more countries must sign on before the convention can take effect.
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