Like Water for Petrol

| April 7, 2003

Last month World Water Forum delegates, including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Moroccan minister of Infrastructure, Water and Environment Mohammed El Yazghi, and Jean-Michel Cousteau?son of renown oceanographer Jacques Cousteau?met in Kyoto, Japan, in hopes of ?putting into place a framework to deal with the worsening water crisis,? reports Elaine Lies of Reuters. Forum attendees?who have projected a world population of 9.3 billion by 2050?estimate that 2 to 7 billion people will be affected by water shortages resulting from global warming, pollution, and population growth.

Of primary concern is the possibility that privatization of public water systems will result in water shortages and international conflict. ?Water cannot be looked on as the next gold or oil,? said Cousteau. ?There are alternatives for oil, but there are no substitutes for water.? Gorbachev added, ?Water is life. People are sometimes willing to do anything to get water.? El Yazghi concurred, ?Peace is absolutely essential. We in the Arab world need peace so we can manage our water resources for the good of our people.?

Water conflict has been an issue for centuries, writes Lies, especially when ?one river [provides] water to many nations,? as with the Euphrates and the Tigris, rivers that flow through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Israel. Despite past political conflicts, resolution between opposing nations is possible. In 1960, India and Pakistan set a global benchmark by setting aside their political differences to conclude an accord for their shared water resource, the Indus River.
-Erin Ferdinand

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