Water experts gather in Istanbul

Turkey’s Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu calls for establishment of a fund to support access for water in disadvantaged countries at Istanbul International Water Forum

Turkey’s Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu calls for establishment of a fund to support access for water in disadvantaged countries at Istanbul International Water Forum

ISTANBUL – Experts from around the world met in Istanbul on Tuesday to discuss water security in preparation for the seventh World Water Forum to be held in South Korea in 2015.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Third Istanbul International Water Forum, Turkish Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroglu said that it is critical for states to provide healthy water to their citizens. Eroglu added that the three-day forum is also an opportunity to reopen for discussion the “Istanbul Water Consensus” which was adopted at the fifth World Water Forum, in which Turkey committed to improving the water resources and water sanitation management in 1,116 cities and towns.

“One-third of the world's population does not have adequate water,” Eroglu said.

Remarking that Turkey's governmental institution for international development, TIKA (The Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency), is present in African countries, Eroglu said, “Last year, we initiated a mobilization program through TIKA for $2.5 billion in Africa alone, through which we provide water.”

Eroglu also called for the establishment of a fund to support access for water in disadvantaged countries, saying, “This should be raised in the upcoming seventh World Water Forum.”

Speaking to press after the opening ceremony, Eroglu mentioned a possible water shortage in 2014 in Istanbul. He said that dams in Istanbul are only 28 percent full. He added that water from two rivers were being directed to Istanbul. “We are doing as much as we can to avoid a water shortage,” he said.

The capacity of Istanbul’s fresh water reserves dropped to 27 percent in May 2014 from 86 percent in the same month in 2013, according to data from Istanbul's water authority, ISKI.

Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Committee, said that access to clean water is a human right and of great importance.

Istanbul International Water Forum is organized every three years by the Turkish Water Institute, a think tank under the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, one year before the World Water Forum. Articles from the forum will be published in the International Water Resources Association’s magazine “Water International.”

The main topics of the forum this year are ‘Water Security and Legal Aspects of Water.’

The three-day forum will discuss issues of climate change, the water-food-energy-ecology nexus, water governance and integrated basin management. Other subjects will include the right to water and sanitation, national water laws, trans-boundary water cooperation and legislation on protection of water resources. 

According to the UN, 85 percent of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean, drinkable water, and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Between 6 and 8 million people die annually due to lack of drinkable water from disasters and water-related diseases.

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