|Freshwater Resources in Arid Lands (UNU, 1997, 94 pages)|
Juha I. Uitto
The annual United Nations University (UNU) Global Environmental forums have been organized since 1991, with the objective of highlighting issues pertaining to global environmental change and of disseminating research results to a wider public. This function falls squarely within the mandate of the UNU, an autonomous academic organization under the United Nations umbrella. According to its Charter, the UNU shall be an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training, and dissemination of knowledge on issues that are the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare, including the environment and the proper use of resources. The Charter further states that the University shall disseminate the knowledge gained in its activities to the United Nations and its agencies, to scholars, and to the public, in order to increase dynamic interaction in the worldwide community of learning and research.
The UNU Global Environmental Forum series responds to this mandate given to the University. The previous forums have dealt with various important dimensions of global environmental change and possible strategies to cope with it. The first one, entitled "Monitoring and Action for the Earth," was concerned with new technologies for monitoring and observation of the changes occurring in the terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The second forum, in 1993, entitled "Environmental Change in Rainforests and Drylands," analysed case studies from South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Chinese drylands. The third forum's title was posed in the form of a question: "Will Tropical Forests Change in a Global Greenhouse?" It examined the complex and multi-faceted interlinkages between global warming and the sustainability of tropical rain-forest ecosystems and their biological diversity. The fourth forum that took place in 1995 had the theme "Population, Land Management and Environmental Change," focusing on sustainable management of land and biota in smallholder agricultural regions subjected to increasing pressures from population growth, urbanization, and social and economic change.
The UNU Global Environmental Forum V on "Freshwater Resources in Arid Lands" took place at the UNU headquarters building on 13 June 1996. The present report reproduces the papers presented at the forum in an edited form. It also contains a summary of the panel discussion held with audience participation. The order of the papers has been revised in order to achieve better flow of the text. The first chapter contains the keynote speech by Iwao Kobori, outlining the broad issues involved in the development of freshwater resources for arid lands. The following two chapters, by Daniel Hillel and Mohamed Abdulrazzak, focus on an arid part of the world, the Middle East, where water often is the limiting factor for social and economic development. The chapter by Wang Tao and Wu Wei is concerned with a different, yet equally significant, arid land area in China, and especially the requirements for bringing it into productive use in a sustainable manner. Kimio Osuga presents a specific technological option for the development of freshwater resources, the underground dam, that is being utilized in small islands facing water shortages in Japan. Finally, Isamu Kayane considers the impact of global climate change on groundwater resources. These chapters are followed by a summary of the panel discussion that took place before the closing of the forum.
The forum was organized with the cooperation of our sister organization, the United Nations Environment Programme's International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP/IETC). The organization of the forum, like all those held previously, was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Obayashi Corporation.