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20 former world leaders discuss looming water crisis
by Staff Writers
Montreal (AFP) May 31, 2011

Twenty former heads of state, including former US president Bill Clinton, warned Tuesday of an impending "water crisis" and agreed to establish a panel that will tackle a worldwide leadership gap on the issue.

The retired leaders, among them ex-Mexican president Vicente Fox and former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, said the panel would work to raise the issue's political prominence in order to avert looming problems with worldwide water supply.

Members of the InterAction Council attending this year's three-day annual meeting in Quebec City also included former Mexican leader Ernesto Zedillo and and Gro Brundtland of Norway.

The group urged a new international water ethic and offered 21 recommendations for world water management.

At the top of the list: "placing water at the forefront of the global political agenda."

Others items included linking climate change research and water problems, creating a legal right to water, and raising the price of water to reflect its economic value.

In areas where water is rationed, the priority should be for food crops and not bio-fuels, said the group, whose co-chairs were former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien and one-time Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky.

Although there is a plentiful water supply in Quebec, it is an especially topical subject after Quebec space tourist Guy Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil, dedicated his 2009 visit to the International Space Station to raising awareness of international water issues.

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