03/17/2009 05:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Water Scarcity Will Carry Heavy Economic and Human Toll: Report

Population growth, changing lifestyles, agricultural needs and increased energy production are some of the factors driving record-high demand for water throughout much of the world. There's a strong business case for water investment, according to the report: Every dollar put toward water generates a return of between $3 and $34. The U.N. released its World Water Development report, "Water in a Changing World," at the Fifth World Water Forum, which kicked off Monday in Istanbul, Turkey. 1

The World Water Forum, a seven-day arena aimed at addressing the planet's deepening crisis of fresh water, was launched here Monday amid a violent protest broken up by riot police using tear gas. The forum, held only every three years, will address growing water scarcity, the risk of conflict as countries squabble over rivers, lakes and aquifers, and how to provide clean water and sanitation to billions. 2

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the meeting, said that water scarcity is a "potent fuel for wars and conflict," according to Reuters. The dry countries Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are currently embroiled in a dispute over water shortages, and have asked the World Water Forum to moderate. 3
  1. Water Scarcity Will Carry Heavy Economic and Human Toll: Report (GreenBiz)
  2. Riot police quell protest as water forum opens (Yahoo Environment)
  3. 120 Nations Meet in Attempt to Avert Global Water Crisis (treehugger)
  4. EPA Encourages Water Conservation With Fix a Leak Week (Earth 911)

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