World Water Day: Sanitizing our water sources

20 March 2008 | Media advisory

While billions of people lack access to proper sanitation, millions of kilometers of rivers are getting more polluted everyday.

Background:

While billions of people lack access to proper sanitation, millions of kilometers of rivers are getting more polluted everyday. World Water Day 2008 is on Saturday 22 March but will be celebrated by the UN on Thursday 20 March. The lack of effective water and effluent treatment continues to damage and contaminate rivers around the world. Polluted rivers cannot be used unless they are cleaned up. Many rivers in developing countries and emerging economies are now polluted to the brink of their collapse. For example, the Yangtze, China’s longest river, is “cancerous” with pollution due to untreated agricultural and industrial waste.

IUCN calls upon governments, businesses and NGOs to seriously increase efforts to reduce the uncontrolled dumping of solid and liquid waste in rivers, and treat effluents efficiently. It is only through a concerted effort of all, that the contamination of our surface and groundwater resources - vital to the survival of people and all living beings- can be stopped and reversed.

Key Issues:

  • International Cooperation - “Sanitation, human health and the environment are inextricably linked,” says Ger Bergkamp, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “Adequate water supply and sanitation means a clean environment and healthy people.”
  • Investing in Nature - “Investing in nature is investment in people,” says Ger Bergkamp, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “Ensuring healthy ecosystems provides communities with important resources to sustain their livelihoods and wellbeing.”
  • Keeping Rivers Alive - “Rivers are the lifeblood of the earth, and maintaining their vitality ensures the flow of water resources to the environment and communities,“ says Ger Bergkamp, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. 

Audio Interview:

To celebrate World Water Day on Saturday, March 22, Ger Berkamp, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme, discusses the state of the world’s fresh water supply and what the international community can do to improve the situation.

Material for the Media:

Spokespeople:

Ger Bergkamp, Head of the IUCN’s Water Programme; Mark Smith, Senior Water Advisor; Rocio Cordoba, Central America Water Coordinator; Kelly West, East and Southern Africa Regional Programme Coordinator; Yazon Gnoumou, West Africa Water Coordinator, IUCN Mali.

Media team:

Clare Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme, m +41 79 404 1973, email: claire.warmenbol@iucn.org.
Sarah Halls, IUCN Global Communications, m +41792472926, email: sarah.halls@iucn.org.  
Brian Thomson, IUCN Global Communications, m +417972182326, email: brian.thomson@iucn.org.