Brussels, 24 Mar 2003
Ongoing coordinated scientific and innovative action is essential to tackling the global water crisis. This is just one of the conclusions from a recently published Commission report examining issues relating to water and their impact on the environment, food production, health, climate and ecosystems.
The 'water for life' report pays particular attention to the Commission's efforts to meet the 2002 EU water initiative objective, which seeks to halve the number of people worldwide living without drinking water and basic sanitation. The report also provides an overview of all the EU projects funded under its research framework programme.
In a foreword, President Romano Prodi wrote 'Water is life, yet over one billion people have no access to safe drinking water and over two billion lack basic sanitation.'
Mr Prodi added that scientific knowledge and innovative approaches across policies and their instruments are important in order to make tangible progress towards achieving the objectives of the initiative. 'It will particularly require a great mobilisation of partners ranging from governments, water agencies, water users to civil society organisations and private enterprises. Open co-ordination and co-operation at all levels from local to international will be crucial,' he said.
In terms of provisions in this area under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the report notes that water is a major focus within the thematic priorities 'sustainable development, global change and ecosystems', 'aeronautics and space' and in the specific area of 'global monitoring for environment and security' (GMES).
Furthermore, some 315 million euro has been allocated to 'specific measures in support of scientific co-operation' (INCO) and another 285 million euro is available to enable the active participation of teams from partner countries in all thematic priorities of FP6.
The publication of the report coincided with the third world water forum in Kyoto, Japan held from 16 to 23 March. European delegates were there to present the progress made in implementing the EU water initiative and to discuss potential partnerships with regions such as Africa, the newly independent states (NIS) and the Mediterranean. Delegates also considered further developments in the area of research, innovation and EU action programmes.
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