Climate change

ICC to provide voice of business at World Water Forum

  • 2 March 2009

A global water crisis exacerbated by economic conditions and climate change makes it critical to raise the political profile of water. The upcoming 5th World Water Forum will provide an excellent opportunity to review the scale of water resources seriously threatened by population growth, land use changes and pollution, ICC underscored in a discussion paper.

The Forum to take place in Istanbul March 16 – 22, should examine issues including water management and conservation, the role of business as a user of water resources and services, and the interconnectivity of water issues.

Water is a key priority issue for economic growth, employment, social development, environmental sustainability and political stability, ICC believes. Access to clean water is the foundation of any sustainable community and business.

“Water is a resource that is vital to businesses both for their own survival as well as their contribution to society’s needs,” said Guy Sebban, ICC Secretary General. “Population growth, urbanization and improving lifestyles, with their attendant demands for water, are increasingly exacerbated by global economic conditions and climate change.”

Initially developed for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in 2004 and 2005, the renewed version of Business Action for Water will represent business at the Forum and facilitate business input. ICC partners with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Aquafed, Tusiad and BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD in the project.

ICC believes that while some progress has been made in achieving the targets for water, sanitation and human settlements as set out in the UN Millennium Goals, many countries are well short of the 2015 goal to reduce by half the number of people without access to safe water and sanitation.

ICC stressed that the poorest populations need to have access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and other water services.

Businesses around the world, as major users of water resources and providers of water related technology, equipment and services, have considerable skills to bring to the Forum’s discussions. “Business is committed to creating technological solutions that solve problems and make economic sense,” said Mr Sebban.

But ICC believes that governments need to take a more integrated approach to international water policy, strategy, planning and decision making, incorporating not only water and waste management but also key elements of agricultural, energy, and industrial usage.

The current financial crisis underscores the urgency of sustainable development that emphasizes a mutually reinforcing balance of economic, social and environmental progress, Mr Sebban said. “Many businesses have brought the concept of sustainable development into their operations, recognizing the clear business and social benefits”.