Book Review: "World Water Vision-Making Water Everybody's Business"

In International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume3 Number2 (Winter 2002)
Peer-reviewed Article

Book Review
World Water Vision-Making Water Everybody's Business by William J. Cosgrove and Frank R. Rijsberman.
Publisher Information: London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2000.
ISBN: 1-85383-730X, 108 pp., £12.95, U.S.$19.95 (pbk).
Reviewer: Yutaka Takahasi, Senior Programme Adviser (Environment and Sustainable Development), United Nations University; Board of Governors, World Water Council.

World Water Vision presents the results of the most comprehensive analysis of the world's water resources ever undertaken. Based on contributions from thousands of experts involved in regional, national, and sectoral consultations, it provides an authoritative diagnosis of these resources and the pressures on them, and it lays out the steps we must take to address the growing water crisis.

It is one of the most important works by the World Water Council, which was established in 1996 as the International Water Policy Think Tank to deal specifically with the global water crisis. From its inception, the World Water Council has understood the dimensions of the world water crisis, realizing that a first step towards solving the water crisis was the development of a shared vision. This concept was introduced in a document, titled "Water, Life, and Environment in the 21st Century," at the World Water Council's first World Water Forum in Marrakech, Morocco in 1997. The Marrakech Declaration then gave the council the mandate to develop such a vision. The work was carried out under the direct responsibility of William J. Cosgrove, director, and Frank R. Rijsberman, deputy director, of the Vision Management Unit, World Water Council, and was presented at the Second World Water Forum in the Hague, the Netherlands in 2000.

After the executive summary, the book consists of five parts. In Part 1, Vision Statement and Key Messages are presented, where it is stated that "One Vision is a world in which all people have access to safe and sufficient water resources to meet their needs, including food, in ways that maintain the integrity of freshwater ecosystems. The Vision exercise's ultimate purpose is to generate global awareness of the water crisis that women and men face and of the possible solutions for addressing it. This awareness will lead to the development of new policies and legislative and institutional frameworks?." It is also emphasized here that the real revolution in water resources management will come when stakeholders have the power to manage their own resources.

In Part 2, The Use of Water Today is presented. First of all, it is pointed out that water use for human purposes multiplied six-fold during the twentieth century, while the world population tripled. The enormous task, including plenty of investment, of providing six times more water now than a hundred years ago has had significant impacts on people and the environment. Information on other kinds of water use is also introduced, such as the fact that nearly 70 percent of the total water withdrawn for human use is for irrigation, etc., along with other statistics.

In Part 3, "Water Futures," water use and water stress in 2025 are projected. The global average annual per capita availability of renewable water resources is projected to fall from 6,600 cubic meters to 4,800 cubic meters in 2025. The expansion of irrigated land is the most important determinant of water stress, at least the stress related to quantity. Many difficult issues related to the future water crisis and how to address them are introduced, along with plenty of scenarios.

In Part 4, "Our Vision of Water and Life in 2025," the authors explore future projections. Against the coming water crisis, they argue that land and water resources management must be integrated with full stakeholder representation and that water services should be subject to full-cost pricing, while innovation and public funding for research must be increased.

In Part 5, "Investing for the Water Future," the authors write that "if each of us assumed the responsibility to act, we will start a moment to bring about our Vision." They say that "there is a role for all investor groups in meeting the financing challenge," and list the activities needed to implement the vision's strategy.

This book is the essential sourcebook for policymakers, politicians, and professionals in the field of water management to better understand the present global water crisis and the countermeasures.


International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume3 Number2 (Winter 2002)

Yutaka Takahasi