[ASC-media] Competing Demands for Water - Will it Flow for All?

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Mon Aug 7 01:45:56 CEST 2006

7 August 2006

International Development Conference
16 August 2006, Parliament House, Canberra

While Australia’s water concerns have focussed lately on the ‘yuk’ factor of
water recycling, and the cost and likelihood of large infrastructure
projects, the 800 million poor people around the world without access to
reliable, safe and affordable water for life, for growing food and for
livelihoods would argue that perhaps their concerns are a little more

Like many Australians, they are caught up in a competition for water between
cities, agriculture, industry and nature. Despite urban users usually
winning out over agriculture, and rivers losing out to irrigation, there are
billions who need the food produced by irrigated agriculture.

More than one third of the world's food is produced on about 250 million
hectares of irrigated land that accounts for about 80% of global fresh water
consumption. We need irrigation because without it, people would starve.
What are the future likely effects, for wealthy and poor countries alike, of
the competing demands for water?

Will increasing demand for water mean its price will match the price of oil?
Will climate change intensify the problem? Can we meet the challenge of
declining water tables? Can we reconcile the competing demands of water
users? Can we peacefully share rivers that cross political boundaries? Can
we develop more efficient irrigation systems? Can we meet community
expectations for healthy rivers?

An impressive range of international and national specialists will address
these questions in terms of the outcomes for Australia and our poorer
neighbours at the Crawford Fund’s free international development conference
Water for Irrigated Agriculture and the Environment: Finding a Flow for All
being held in Parliament House, Canberra on 16 August.

The Hon. Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, will open the
conference, and Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of the International
Water Management Institute, the world’s pre-eminent research institution on
water and related land management challenges is presenting the keynote
address. The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary with special
responsibility for water policy will address the options for Australia’s
water policy.

And if Australia thinks it has problems in the Murray Darling Basin,
specialists will explain arguably more complicated scenarios in the Mekong,
Indo-Gangetic and Yellow River basins.

Further information available at www.crawfordfund.org or by contacting Cathy
Reade, Public Awareness Coordinator, Crawford Fund on 0413 575 934

The ATSE Crawford Fund wishes to thank the sponsors and supporters of this
event including:
Alliance of Future Harvest Centers of the CGIAR; AusAID - the Australian
Agency for International Development; Australian Centre for International
Agricultural Research; Australian Government Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry; Australian Government Department of the Environment
and Heritage; CRC for Irrigation Futures; CSIRO Land and Water; CSIRO
Livestock Industries; Grains Research and Development Corporation;
International Water Management Institute; Land & Water Australia;
Murray-Darling Basin Commission; National Water Commission
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