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Void in leadership on world water crisis cited by 20 former heads of government

Former heads of government from around the world today agreed at a meeting in Canada to establish a new panel to help fill a serious void in leadership related to global water issues.

Saying that "international water leadership is virtually nonexistent," the retired leaders say the panel will work to elevate the issue's political prominence in an effort to avert a looming "water crisis."

The 20 members of the InterAction Council attending this year's three-day annual meeting in Quebec City included former US President Bill Clinton, former Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, and former prime ministers Yasuo Fukuda (Japan) and Gro Brundtland (Norway). Co-chairing the meeting: former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and former Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky,

At the meeting's conclusion, the group urged a new international water ethic and offered today's political office-holders some 21 recommendations for world water management moving forward.

The top recommendation: "placing water at the forefront of the global political agenda." Others include: link climate change research and adaptation programs to water issues, make the right to water legally enforceable, raise the price of water to reflect its economic value while making provisions for people in poverty, prefer the growth of food over biofuel crops in places where water supplies are threatened, and encourage the UN Security Council to take up water as an important focus.

They welcomed both a high level of dialogue and cooperation on water-allocation in the Mekong River delta between China and India and the work done by the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, which aims to rebuild housing in Haiti with adequate sanitation to avoid public health disasters through water contamination.

In addition to the water crisis, the Council touched on other environmental topics, warning of the "intensification of natural phenomenon caused by climate change as demonstrated by floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes ravaging the globe."

On other topics, the Council expressed deep condolences to the Japanese people who endured the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

They warned of potentially "prolonged instability" in North Africa and the Middle East and of inflationary dangers caused by escalating government debt loads.

And they called on governments to eliminate nuclear weapons of mass destruction, the theme of the Council's 2010 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, saying "the continuing existence of nuclear weapons is an unacceptable and disproportionate threat to every living thing on the planet. The only enduring solution to this threat lies in the verifiable and irreversible elimination of these weapons."

"As long as nuclear weapons exist in the hands of any state, they will be sought also by others. As long as nuclear weapons exist they will be used one day, either by deliberate action or by accident. Any use of nuclear weapons would be a human, ecological, economic, political and moral catastrophe. States continue to seek nuclear weapons for a number of reasons. The question of proliferation needs to be recognized and addressed."


Contact: Terry Collins
InterAction Council

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