Water shortages may trigger off wars: UN chief

December 4th, 2007 - 3:01 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec.4 (ANI): United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has warned that water shortages in various parts of the world could lead to wars in the future.
Addressing the first Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Beppu in southwestern Japan yesterday, Ban told delegates from the region that Earth faced a water crisis that would be especially troubling for Asia.
High population growth, rising consumption, pollution, poor water management and climate change posed significant threats, he warned.
Throughout the world, water resources continue to be spoiled, wasted and degraded. The consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict, The Times further quoted him, as saying.
His remarks come as environmental experts in Great Britain have identified 46 countries home to 2.7 billion people where climate change and water-related crises will create a high risk of violent conflict.
A further 56, representing another 1.2 billion people, are at high risk of political instability, claims a report by International Alert.
The report concludes that it is now too late to believe the situation can be made safe solely by reducing carbon emissions worldwide and mitigating climate change.
Janani Vivekananda, one of the authors of the International Alert report said: Water management will be a huge tinderbox and now is the time for international organisations to come together. There is huge potential not just for conflict but for co-operation.
Ban’s comments were echoed by many of the other speakers at the water summit.
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said that water and climate change would be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Eight summit in Japan next summer.
The Beppu summit, which began on the same day as UN Climate Change talks in Bali, also coincides with a study directly linking water shortages to violence throughout history.
In a report published in by the United States National Academy of Sciences journal today, David Zhang, of Hong Kong University, has analysed a half millennium’s worth of human conflict more than 8,000 wars and concluded that climate change and resulting water shortage has been a far greater trigger than imagined previously.
If global warming continues, water shortages could trigger more wars, Dr Zhang told The Times:
We are on alert, because this gives us the indication that resource shortage is the main cause of war. Human beings will definitely have conflicts over this; whether it turns to war depends on the quality of the social buffer available to each nation, but the danger is right there, he added.
Asia Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda said that the bank now plans to double investment in Asian water projects to two billion dollars per year, given the potential for conflict if water governance remains weak. (ANI)

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