Managing freshwater resources

Published: Sunday 31 May 1998

Managing freshwater resources

Do industry and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) make strange bedfellows? Not anymore, apparently. In what could be a trend-setting partnership, UNEP and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have come out with a report titled "Industry, Freshwater and Sustainable Development". Dubbed the "wake up call to business and to the other sectors of society", the report documents how many companies manage freshwater resources more sustainably.

"(The report) is meant to serve as an example of cooperation between an inter-governmental organisation and a business group in disseminating information on freshwater," notes Klaus Tofper, executive director, UNEP. "UNEP has a primary interest in guaranteeing adequate freshwater to protect the natural environment and aquatic life as well as to meet human needs. The primary focus of business is on ensuring access to process water for its operations," he added.

Highlighting the state of the world's freshwater, the report notes that a number of regions in the word were suffering from freshwater shortages. While assuring that the world was not running out of freshwater, the report adds that it was not distributed equally, and not where needed. "Industry could be at risk when freshwater shortages occur. Water for industry is often given relatively low priority. Water (would then) become a limiting factor for sustainable development and future industrialisation in water-scarce regions," the report says.

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