Water is life

Spotlight on Water: Preview

Click to enlarge. Image by Rob

Civilisation was born with water. Water is indeed the basis of life. Yet mankind has not been wise enough to live with water. Time has come to act, and that is why Japan will be hosting the 3rd World Water Forum and an International Ministerial Conference in the Kyoto region, cradle of Japanese civilization since more than 2,000 years ago.

The water situation differs from region to region, and from country to country. Also, the issues needed to be addressed in urban areas are different from those in rural areas. As for drinking water and sanitation, it is estimated that about 1.2 billion people, i.e. one out of every five people, do not have access to safe drinking water, and that about 2.4 billion people, i.e. two out of every five people, do not have access to basic sanitation. Thousands of children die every day of diseases related to water. The situation may deteriorate. It is, therefore, the responsibility of leaders of the world to make every possible effort to improve them.

The 3rd World Water Forum is being held in the prefectures of Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka in Japan on 16-23 March 2003. During that period, about 350 sessions will be organised on various aspects of water with the participation of thousands of people from all over the world. To conclude the Forum, a Ministerial Conference, in which ministers responsible for water from around the world and relevant international organisations, including the OECD, will participate. The conference will be held on 22–23 March in Kyoto. Together with Ms. Chikage Oogi, Japan’s minister of land, infrastructure and transport, I have the honour of chairing the Ministerial Conference. I look forward to it, not only because the Conference is an important follow-up of last year’s World Summit on Sustainable Development WSSD) where water was regarded as one of the five major sectors, i.e. water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity (WEHAB) which the UN secretary-general emphasised, but also because water-related issues are indeed one of the highest items on the international community’s agenda.

In the Ministerial Conference, we will discuss the following five issues: safe drinking water and sanitation; water for food and rural development; water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation; disaster mitigation and risk management; water resources management and benefit sharing.

In addressing these important issues, we aim to encourage ownership and good governance of countries in need and foster the partnership of the international community to support the ownership. We will launch a Portfolio of Water Actions, compiling voluntary contributions from countries and international organisations of programmes in the fields of water, to strengthen ownership and partnership. We will also adopt a Ministerial Declaration.

In the Ministerial Declaration, to be issued on 23 March, the ministers should specify areas of priority in the fields of water, and how to address them. In tackling the issues of ownership and partnership, how to empower the communities concerned is an important question. In the details of the Ministerial Declaration, we look forward to seeing what will develop and how, in the follow-up of the previous World Water Forums and the WSSD and in view of the other important international meetings ahead, such as the G8 Evian Summit and the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADIII) scheduled later this year.

Water means many things to us!

©OECD Observer No 236, March 2003

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016