World leaders are being urged to take action at this month's
Earth Summit in South Africa to help developing countries
manage scarce water resources.
head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Klaus
Toepfer, said governments had to move from declarations
about improving access to water and sanitation to action
the start of the World Water Week symposium in the Swedish
capital, Stockholm, Mr Toepfer said more than a billion
people around the world still lacked access to safe
adequate clean water, there can be no escape from poverty,"
is totally accepted around the world that it is the
bottleneck for development, without any doubt."
five-day gathering of some 900 politicians, scientists
and industry representatives from 100 countries is due
to end a week before the massive Earth Summit on sustainable
development starts in South Africa.
is one of the five key themes United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan has picked for Johannesburg.
is also expected to top the agenda.
said water pollution, poor sanitation and water shortages
would kill millions of people this year and leave millions
more "in bad health and trapped in poverty".
like the South African water minister Ronnie Kasrils want
the same precise targets for sanitation that already exist
for the supply of clean water.
are going to, in Johannesburg, have an almighty struggle
for timeframes and target for sanitation, and I believe
we can win," he said.
attending the Earth Summit will make declarations and
commitments that Mr Toepfer hopes will lead to action.
Margaret Catley-Carlson, of the Global Water Partnership,
added a word of warning about putting too much emphasis
on what governments do.
said only a handful of the 65,000 people attending the
Johannesburg meeting would be government officials.
governments lead, and that's great, that's the way we
would like it to be," she said.
governments follow, and their citizens and their stakeholders
and those who are represented in Johannesburg will get
good ideas and will go ahead with these whether or not
the governments are actually at the stage of endorsing
the particular initiative."