Population growth together with changes in lifestyle and economic development in developing countries have heightened the pressure on water resources that are already limited. Environmental problems, especially climate change, add to these pressures. Since it is a resource that is essential for life, the supply, improvement and sound management of water are key elements in achieving the European Union's main objective in relation to its development policy, namely combating poverty. Furthermore, poor water management can be a source of conflict.
The European Union and its partners must face up to major challenges. In 2000, 17% of the world's population did not have access to a secure water supply and 40% lacked adequate sanitation. Most of these people lived in Africa and Asia.
For several years, the water issue has increasingly been on the agenda at international level. In December 2001, the Bonn International Conference on Freshwater made recommendations on the priority themes in this field. This communication serves as a basis for the Community's contribution to the international debate.
The Community's current water-related strategies and activities
The social sector has been identified as a priority for the Community development policy and the management of water resources is an important element of this sector. The guidelines adopted in 1998 form the basis of Community activities and have been used to define the orientations contained in this communication. They establish a holistic and strategic approach for water management and use. Water management is considered to be an inter-sectoral question as it has an important role to play in all areas of development: health, food security, transport, trade, etc. Regional cooperation is of particular importance since water is often a transboundary resource.
It is essential to integrate water management into all development... [continues]
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