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Beijing to Host World Water Congress
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The Fifth World Water Congress and Exhibition will be held in Beijing from September 10 to 14, focusing on worldwide water issues, a Ministry of Construction senior official announced on Tuesday.

The congress is aimed at increasing worldwide awareness of water shortages and other water issues, said Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing.

This is also the first time that the congress is being held in Asia.

Nearly 3,000 water experts and scholars and government officials from various countries are expected to attend. Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan will officiate as honorary president and deliver a keynote speech to the congress.

"All the preparatory work is now well underway," Qiu said.

He added that the congress will create a valuable platform "to bring in advanced ideas, technologies and experiences in the water sector worldwide and help expand exchanges and cooperation."

The congress is also designed to help solve the contradictions between the shortage of water resources and ever-increasing water demands in China. Developed countries are encouraged to offer their expertise, advanced technologies and funds to developing countries that need help.

However, a report by conservation organization WWF has warned that the water crisis is a global problem and even rich countries face increasing water shortages.

A combination of climate change and poor resource management is leading to water shortages in even the most developed countries, it said.

The WWF added that economic wealth does not automatically mean plenty of water.

Europe is becoming drier as a result of climate change and further north, Alpine glaciers -- a significant source of water -- are shrinking.

The situations in developing countries are even worse, according to experts.

Broiling temperatures and a severe drought have left millions of people short of water and put a strain on power supplies in many parts of China this summer, leading to at least three deaths and a blackout in one city, according to news reports.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2006)

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