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By DOCUMENT Extracts from the United Nations World Water Development Report 2, 2006 TO BE CONCLUDED
  • Published 24.04.06

The Post Conflict Assessment Unit of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown that conflicts are almost always followed by environmental crises: chemicals leaching into waterways, damage to irrigation systems, deforestation, the destruction of infrastructure...collapses of governance systems ?local and national.

Rebuilding economies, damaged lives, shattered infrastructure including water and power systems, rebuilding and restoring damaged irrigation systems, removing landmines in post-conflict situations, absorb 27 percent of all Overseas Development Assistance...The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD Convention)2 seeks to prohibit acts such as weather modification and harmful flood creation. The threat posed by the release of toxic chemicals into the environment has further prompted calls for a new convention. It is no coincidence that many of the countries yet to make progress on debt relief are those recently emerged from conflict situations...

Globalization: At present, the world is going through an unprecedented process of integrating finance, trade, communication and technology. By eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade, the world?s economy is becoming increasingly interlinked. This has advantages. Transaction costs and investment risks can be reduced and greater investment encouraged. The increased competition encouraged by regional integration fosters competition and innovation. Reduced costs in telecommunications and energy infrastructure are possible. For water, globalization enables economies of scale through access to bigger markets, facilitates improved cooperation over international waters, and allows a benefits-based approach towards regional water-resource systems and intercountry collaboration on water knowledge ...in developing countries. Statistics show that countries with urban growth exceeding 4 percent per year are twice as likely as others to experience civil disturbances (Population Action International, 2003).

Political and economic changes: We are living in a period of rapid and significant geopolitical change. Previously established empires and countries have broken up (e.g. the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia) while neighbouring groups of countries seek closer economic collaboration or consolidation (e.g. the European Union). The former centrally controlled economy of the Soviet Union is now a collection of nation states trying to enter the global economy, without the experience or institutions to cope effectively. Ethnic tensions suppressed under former political systems within the former Yugoslavia have erupted into armed conflict in the Balkans. New nation states, wary of sharing the water resources of transboundary rivers and aquifers, become very defensive about their perceived sovereignty over such resources, especially as resources are pressured by increased demand and deteriorating water quality.

Warfare and conflicts: ...technology is now increasingly available worldwide. The use of ultraviolet irradiation of waters...in industrial water treatment, and for reducing the polluting burden of waste water effluents, is spreading. New understanding is emerging of onsite wastewater treatment and recycling and small water and wastewater systems. This offers lower overall costs for water supply and sanitation systems and nutrient recovery options, as well as reducing the complexity of large centralized systems.