World Water Forum urges urban action to meet water challenge
ISTANBUL, TURKEY, March 20 (Xinhua) — The ongoing World Water Forum, held in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul, urged on Friday priority in action of world cities to meet water challenges.
“Mayors and local authorities are the pillars of water governance,” said Loic Fauchon, president of the World Water Council, which convened the forum together with host Turkey.
“Our cities are the battlefield where this struggle will be won or lost,” he said.
More than 250 mayors and local authorities from 43 countries gathered at the forum to ensure power, expertise, money and responsibility to meet the demands for water where human thirst is most intensely concentrated.
According to statistics from the forum, 3.3 billion people live in cities worldwide today, a number which would rise to 5 billion by 2030. Developing countries like India absorb 95 percent of this growth; 300 rural migrants swell Mumbai each day. The strain is severe.
The UN World Water Development Report: Water in a Changing World launched this week said that demographic growth means that water challenges are emphatically urban.
The World Water Forum, the fifth of its kind, has organized a series of debates leading up to endorsement of the Istanbul Water Consensus (IWC), a non-binding agreement to catalyze action on urban water and sanitation issues worldwide.
According to a press release of the Forum, though participation in the Consensus is voluntary, expanding number of cities of all shapes and sizes from every continent have signed it. The first 51signatories include Entebbe, Rotterdam, Vienna, Brisbane, Paris, Buenos Aires, Lausanne, Incheon, Lyon, and Istanbul.
“We no longer have the luxury of remaining indifferent to this problem (to provide water and sanitation),” said Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul.
“We should turn water into an instrument of peace rather than one of conflict. We want to turn this into an action plan for the work that needs to be conducted after this Forum and to encourage cooperation among cities and countries,” said Topbas.
According to the Forum, those who most lack water are poor, immigrant, landless squatters living in flood-prone valleys or beneath landslide-prone slopes. Job-generating industries may pollute the local water supply of workers. Even previously safe natural water supplies are undermined by the lack of adequate or convenient sanitation services.
The absence of latrines, waste treatment, and drainage systems means storm water can wash human waste into water resources to pollute both rivers and groundwater.
The Forum, the world’s largest water event, kicked off on Monday in Istanbul with the theme of “Bridging Divides for Water” to promote ideas about conserving, managing and supplying water.