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Interview with Margaret Catley-Carlson - 2003-03-07


MR. BORGIDA:
The World Bank is holding an important meeting here in Washington, D.C. this week on water, sanitation, environmental management, and more issues. And joining us to discuss the key issues of this conference here, Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the Global Water Partnership.

Thanks so much for joining us to shed light on this. We can put people up in space in the International Space Station, but we haven't yet gotten a handle really on how to keep water clean. What are the big issues here at the conference?

MS. CATLEY-CARLSON:
Well, there are basically two big issues about world water management generally. The first one is we don't manage water as a resource and, as a result, there are very big rivers that no longer reach the sea, with all the implications, you can imagine, for the deltas, 28 percent of aquatic species of fish are in peril, livelihoods ruined, and incalculable damage to the environment. And these are big rivers like the Colorado, the Yellow River, 190 days a year it doesn't reach the sea. So, that's the management of the resource. For instance, that's the river and the lake that's no longer there.

And then the other issue is basically services for people. There are over a billion people -- in the interview with Richard Murphy, you were talking about the fact that there are a billion Islamic people in the world -- there are over a billion people that don't have access to clean water every day. And there are 2 billion that don't have access to sanitation. And that's a financial issue.

MR. BORGIDA:
It is. And let's talk about that in that context. You mentioned the interview with Richard Murphy. In the Middle East, South Asia, the developing world, water has always played some kind of a role in that troubled history, hasn't it?

MS. CATLEY-CARLSON:
Yes. I mean, water is not equally divided around the world. And the Middle East, for example, has about 5 or 6 percent of the global population and 1 percent of the water. So, therefore, there has always been really acute contention and difficulty and scrambling and real difficulty over water, between Turkey and Iraq, for example, between Turkey and Syria. Obviously, we all know the ones about between Israel and Jordan, but there has also been quite a lot of collaboration in the water area, too, because it's a common struggle. So, it's a combination of struggle and confrontation and collaboration.

MR. BORGIDA:
If there were one piece of advice that you could give opinion leaders around the world about how to manage water, what would it be in this day and age?

MS. CATLEY-CARLSON:
Be conscious of water as a resource, something we never had to be when we had 3 billion people, did not have so many chemicals, didn't live in cities, and the water flowed by. We didn't think about managing water as a resource because really we didn't need to. Now we're over 6 billion. We all want more water every day for just about every use, and so therefore this is one more resource that we've got to manage really very carefully.

MR. BORGIDA:
Good advice. The views of Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the Global Water Partnership. Thanks so much for joining us. I know it has been a busy day for you. We appreciate it.

MS. CATLEY-CARLSON:
Thank you.

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