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WWF forum to raise awareness of water resources
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The week-long 5th World Water Forum (WWF) is due to open in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul on Monday to raise more awareness of vital water resources.

With the theme "Bridging Divides for Water," the WWF, due to be held on March 16-22, is gathering a record of some 30,000 participants from all over the world, including 25 heads of state and some 180 ministers of world governments.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul is to address the opening ceremony Monday morning, kicking off a wide range of activities from heads of state summit to multi-shareholder topic discussions and a water fair.

According to Klaus Topfer, the 5th WWF Ambassador and former German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, "awareness-raising for the broader public, integration of nongovernmental organizations and private business and the obligation to showcase good examples are expected to be the concrete result of this forum."

Topfer, who is also the previous Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, has urged that "we have to hurry up in the overall field of water. We have to do more than we are doing now to prevent the growing population... coming to the limits of the carrying capacity of this globe. We do not have a second globe in reserve -- we have to handle it here."

The WWF, organized by the World Water Council together with the host country, convenes every three years, aimed to raise the importance of water on the political agenda, seek solutions to international water problems and formulate concrete proposals to the world.

Water is a finite resource as precious as oil. In fact, of all the water on the Earth, only 2.5 percent is freshwater of which over two thirds is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Therefore, available freshwater represents less than half of 1 percent of the world's total water stock.

According to the 2nd UN World Water Development Report, about 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.1 billion people, lacks access to safe drinking water and 40 percent lacks access to basic sanitation, due to unfair distribution, mismanagement and inadequate investment in infrastructure.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2009)

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