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Solving the water-related problems of the 21st century

Nairobi/Kalmar, Sweden, September 9, 1998 - A global overview of the environmental status of the world's international waters will move a step closer to reality this Friday with the inauguration of the Marine Biological Center in Kalmar, Sweden, the future home of the coordination office of the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA).

The GIWA, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) project with a budget of US$ 13.5 million, will provide the first fully comprehensive assessment of the world's water-related environmental problems. Partly financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and in partnership with other UN agencies, governments and NGOs, GIWA is a major undertaking by UNEP. It is comparable to other initiatives on leading environmental concerns such as ozone (scientific assessments within the Montreal Protocol), global warming (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and biological diversity (Global Biodiversity Assessment).

At the inauguration ceremony, UNEP's Deputy Executive Director, Shafqat Kakakhel, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Municipality of Kalmar, the University of Kalmar (which administers the Marine Center) and UNEP. He will use the occasion to underline the importance of the project to UNEP's future leadership role in the field of water and stress that addressing water issues must be a priority for UNEP and the international community.

"In the next century, more than two thirds of the global population will be living under conditions of water stress," said Kakakhel. "GIWA will provide policy makers with the necessary information to take informed decisions. This assessment will provide the key to anticipating and solving the water-related problems of the new millennium," he said.

Taking a holistic approach to the evaluation of the linkages between the problems of freshwater basins and coastal and marine waters, the GIWA will also complement the work of UNEP's Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.

For more information contact:

Per Enarsson,
Programme Officer, UNEP GEF Coordination Office in Nairobi on
tel. +254-2-623676, fax. +254-2-624041,
Robert Bisset,
UNEP Media and Communications Officer
tel. +254-2-623084, fax. 623692,

UNEP News Release 1998/89

Wednesday 09 Sep 1998
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