Vol. 1 N° 3 [April–June 2003]



p 2 - The International Year of Freshwater

p 6 - SESAME breaks new ground
p 7 - E-learning comes to India’s blind
p 8 - Avicenna virtual campus prepares for first intake
p 8 - The OCEANS programme charts new seas
p 9 - A life devoted to popularizing environmental science
p 10 - Parliamentarians call for international forum on S&T policy
p 10 - Scientists to debate virtues of European Research Council

p 11 - New ICTP Director Katepalli R. Sreenivasan vows to promote global scientific excellence

p 13 - Journey to the highest lake in the world
p 16 - The pastoralists of Wadi Allaqi

p 20 - Diary
p 20 - New releases
p 20 - Governing bodies

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'Water for a thirsty planet'

As Mikhail Gorbatchev put it, ‘Just as we are moved by water, we must now move in order to save it.’Water is intrinsic to our lives and to the ecosystems upon which we all depend. Every day, natural disasters such as floods and droughts, and humanmade disasters such as pollution, are damaging this resource and claiming human health and life.

As the world population grows, so too is pressure growing on our rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers. In many parts of the world, competition is increasing between users fighting for their share of clean, usable water. Are agricultural demands more important than using water for energy production? Are demands of urban populations more important than rural needs? Should we allow the natural environment to suffer through changing river flows or tolerating pollution? All water uses are interlinked, so only an integrated approach to water management will work.

Upstream users affect the quantity and quality of waters available to downstream users; and users along the course of a shared river or aquifer must agree on realistic and sustainable use of the resource if conflict is to be avoided. ‘If you are looking for reasons to fight’, Uri Shamir has said, ‘water can provide you with one. But if you seek peace, water makes a good bridge for co-operation.’The examples in the present issue of Lake Titicaca and the Columbia River show how water sharing can work.

In 2000, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, announced the creation of the United Nations system-wide World Water Assessment Programme composed of 23 agencies and convention secretariats, and hosted by UNESCO. The primary product of this Programme is the World Water Development Report, the first edition of which is to be launched on 22 March at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto (Japan).

Another key event later in the Year will be the Pan-African Conference on Water Resources Management in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), co-organized by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme.

The International Year of Freshwater is a year of opportunity, a Year in which we, as individuals, communities, countries and as a ‘global village’ must come to understand the urgency of protecting and reviving our life-sustaining water resources.

W. Erdelen
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences

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