And yet lack of water has become one of the world’s most pressing challenges. Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water; about two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps and we have long over-stretched this precious resource.
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Population growth, industrial and agricultural development, pollution, wetland drainage, river channelization and deforestation causing sedimentation have all put a massive strain on the world’s freshwater systems.
Two billion people need water from 263 rivers that cross the borders of 145 countries. Competition over this finite supply can test the limits of peace. But analysts’ predictions of ‘water wars’ are proving premature as a new cooperation is emerging over sustainable water management. IUCN is playing a key role in making sure that there is enough water in the world for both people and nature.
And this month is a busy one in the water policy arena. IUCN experts are taking part in Expo 2010 in Shanghai, World Water Week in Stockholm, 5–11 September and the International Water Association’s World Water Congress in Montreal, 19–24 September.