Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent at global forums to discuss water-related issues over the past 25 years. The benefits of spending such enormous amounts of money, and of the time and efforts necessary to organise such events, are not known, and also not known if such forums have had any perceptible impact in improving the water availability and use conditions, management practices, and human welfare of billions of people in the developing world. Yet, such global forums, where water policies and issues are discussed, have become increasingly more expensive and frequent. For example, the United Nations Water Conference, which was held in Mar del Plata in 1977 at a very high decision-making level, was a modest affair. Even then, it was unquestionably the most important global forum on water that has ever been held which had the highest impacts. In contrast, the global forums of the post-1992 period, where water issues discussed at some depths, have become increasingly more and more expensive. For the three World Water Forums that have been held during 1997-2003 period, each had cost significantly more than the previous one.
While the costs have escalated exponentially for these global discussions, no serious study has even been conducted as to what have been the impacts, individual or collective, of all the large global forums, and if more efficient and cost-effective alternatives are available to such global forums. This project analysed the global forums where water was an important issue for discussion, starting from the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in June 1972, to the Third World Water Forum held in Japan in March 2003.
The impacts of the past global water forums were evaluated, on the world in general, and on certain important water-oriented countries in particular. The main objectives of the project were:
This evaluation process started from April 2004, and was completed on December 2004.
Participants from over 123 countries submitted their views. These were analysed. In addition, detailed analyses were prepared for specific regions, which include Australia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Japan, Scandinavia and Southern Africa.
The Centre organised a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, during 29-30 January.
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