by Staff Writers
New York NY (SPX) Nov 02, 2011
UN University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health has published a study of the changing language related to water in high-level declarations from eleven UN conferences on water and the environment over the past forty years.
Both deepening and shallowing of key terms were evident throughout the documents and the report suggests effective strategies for highlighting and strengthening key concepts.
"The vocabulary of water percolates into daily conversations worldwide, whether in relation to personal or societal survival, the status and health of the global environment, or to water's importance in other realms of sustainable development including food and energy security," says UNU-INWEH Senior Fellow Dr. Alex Bielak, who co-authored the study with PhD student Dana Mount of the joint McMaster University/UNU-INWEH graduate diploma program, Water Without Borders.
"As a result, the words used to highlight important issues related to water also matter, particularly when used by experts or when they come with the endorsement of highly-regarded bodies like the United Nations, especially in the form of UN Declarations and Resolutions."
Themes covered include: Water Scarcity, Water Security, Desertification, Water Quality, Sanitation, Science and Technology, Poverty, Gender, Food, Climate Change, and Health.
Moreover, there is a four page 'Summary for Decision Makers' which distills the lessons learned from a synthesis of water discourse over four decades of UN Declarations.
The report is a contribution by the Institute to the process leading up to Rio+20 - a global meeting of leaders in Brazil next June on the 20th anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit of 1992.
"We hope this study will facilitate the efforts of Ministers and policy makers to both build on and avoid unnecessary overlap with work done at previous meetings," says Dr. Bielak.
"The findings of the report should assist drafters of future UN Declarations to ensure their outputs are effective, robust and reflect mindful and cumulative deepening of work undertaken at previous high-level meetings."
United Nations University
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Fog harvesting gives water to South African village
Tshiavha, South Africa (AFP) Nov 1, 2011
When plumes of fog gather above the rocky mountains encircling a remote South African village, children look at them with excitement, knowing they will have clean drinking water at school. Like many rural areas in the country, running water in Tshiavha village in Limpopo province is scarce, but the school-based fog harvesting nets have brought some relief. Mountainous landscapes and a mi ... read more
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