Cover Image
close this bookToward Sustainable Management of Water Resources (WB)
close this folderAcknowledgments
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentA new appreciation for water
View the documentFailure of current policies
View the documentFour principal failures
View the documentNew stresses require a new approach
View the documentA framework for improving the management of water resources
View the documentA comprehensive cross-sectoral approach
View the documentWater use per capita declined nearly 10 percent.
View the documentEnvironment and health


The text is drawn from an address by Ismail Serageldin to the VIII World Congress 021 Water Resources of the International Water Resources Association in Cairo, Egypt, on November 22, 1994.

The author is grateful to Guy Et Moigne John Briscoe, Gershon Feder, and Randall Purcell for their help in preparing, this publication Cecilia Goriz contributid to the research. Editorial and production assistance was provided by Virginia delaven Hitchcock and Lisa Barczak

Few issues have a greater impact on our lives and on the life of the planet shall the management of our most important natural resource: water. Today we have a new appreciation for the role of water in our lives, our economies, and our ecosystem. Water is our lifeblood. Human beings, like other animals and plants, are made mostly of water. We need water to maintain basic health and sanitation. Some 8 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are used for this purpose. We need adequate supplies of water to feed ourselves. Agriculture accounts for some 63 percent of the world's use of freshwater (about 70 percent in the developing countries), and a third of the world's food crops are produced by irrigated agriculture. We also need water to develop and maintain vibrant economies. Industries use about a fifth of the world's freshwater supplies, often as a vital part of the production process. Factories use water for cooling, processing, and generating steam to run equipment and as a transporting agent. Finally, most animal and plant species depend on freshwater ecosystems, which are also important for maintaining regional weather patterns and even global climate.