The Fifth World Water Forum begins in Istanbul Mar. 16 in the face of some stark facts: of the world's water, 97.5 percent is the sea, and of the remaining, 70 percent is frozen in polar icecaps. That leaves precious little for 6.76 billion people around the world, expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050.
The statistics get scarier. United Nations agencies estimate that 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water. About 70 percent of water is used for irrigation - and most of that is lost before it reaches the plant. In 2017 close to 70 percent of the global population will have problems accessing freshwater. In 2025, approximately 40 percent of the population will be living in water-scarce regions.
Confronting these facts, and the difficulties they raise, will be an estimated 20,000 participants who will attend the week-long forum on the future of the 'commodity' that is so much more vital than oil or gas, gold or diamonds.