1. Introduction: pressures on water resources
The past decade has witnessed a fundamental shift in public
awareness of and concern about the threats to water resources
and surrounding ecosystems.
But when it comes to policy, little has changed. Most decisions
about the management of water resources remain the product of
economic criteria and politically charged reasoning – regardless
of whether they concern a town, a region, a country or even
several countries. Despite repeated calls from world experts, we
are a long way from an approach to the management of water
resources that reflects scientific understanding and use of best
available practice. Meanwhile, the pressure on our water
resources is mounting.
The factors affecting water resources include the
- population growth, particularly in water-short
- movement of large numbers of people from the
countryside to towns and cities,
- demands for greater food security and higher living
- increased competition between different uses of water
- pollution from factories, cities, and
Climate change and
natural variability in the distribution and occurrence of water
further complicate the
sustainable development of
our water resources.
Still, some progress is being made. At the national and
regional levels, officials are evaluating how much water of what
quality is available, and coordinating efforts to manage its
use. Increasingly these activities are being carried out by new
organizations working across borders to address water resources
shared by more than one country. For example, communities in
flood-prone areas stand to benefit from recent international
initiatives that take a joint approach to flood control.