The fifth World Water Forum opens in Istanbul

The World Water Forum was launched on Monday 16 March 2009 in Istanbul (Turkey). It is held only every three years and aimed at addressing the deepening international crisis of water. The forum will address problems of water scarcity, the risk of conflict as countries squabble over rivers, lakes and aquifers, and how to provide clean water and sanitation to billions.

Twenty-eight thousand people from 107 countries, among them government officials, business people, scientists and conservationists, are expected to discuss themes associated with water until March 22.

Freshwater issues are growing concern and the United Nations set 2015 as the target date for the goal of halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and the basic sanitation of clean water. The task is huge but the rewards of success are great:
• 1.1 billion people do not have clean water.
• 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation.
• 88 percent of diarrhoeal deaths in children—more than 1.5 million—are due to poor or no sanitation and lack of clean water.
• $1.7 billion would be saved each year by cutting the amount spent treating water-borne disease if the goal were met.
• 2 million lives a year would be saved if the goal were met.