June 3, 2011, Quebec City, QC – Former heads of government from around the world will establish a new panel to fill a “serious void” in leadership on global water issues.
The 20 members of the InterAction Council present at the group’s annual meeting, held this year in Quebec City, Que., hope the new panel will elevate the political prominence of water issues to avert a looming “water crisis.”
The meeting was co-chaired by former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien and former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky. Members in attendance included former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former Mexican presidents Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, and former prime ministers Yasuo Fukuda (Japan) and Gro Brundtland (Norway).
“International water leadership is virtually nonexistent,” the council said in a statement released after the meeting. “Solutions to the water crisis need to be sought from the perspective of development, energy, technology, international law, gender equality, migration, economic progress, public health, conservation and environment.”
The council of former leaders also offered today’s office-holders 21 recommendations for world water management.
Their top recommendation encourages leaders to place water “at the forefront of the global political agenda.”
Other recommendations include: linking climate change research and adaptation programs to water issues; making the right to water legally enforceable; raising the price of water to reflect its economic value while making provisions for people in poverty; preferring the growth of food over bio-fuel crops in places where water supplies are threatened; and encouraging the United Nations Security Council to take up water as an important focus.
The council also urged government’s to take a watershed-based approach, rather than piecemeal approaches that vary among countries sharing watersheds.
“Political jurisdictions have created artificial boundaries for shared resources around the world: water and rivers flow without worrying about political boundaries drawn on a map.”
For a full list of the council’s recommendations, visit www.interactioncouncil.org.