In the wake of a United Nations' report last week that declared a world water crisis, concerned Asian leaders are planning concerted action to deal with the lack of clean water in their region.
Japan on Tuesday announced that it will invite heads of government from 47 countries to attend a summit next year on the subject of water in the Asia-Pacific region.
The summit is being organized by a new private group called the Asia-Pacific Water Forum. The group has reported that nearly two billion people in the Asia-Pacific region do not to have access to basic sanitation, and some 655 million are without safe drinking water.
The forum, launched in Manila in September, is headed by former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori. Mr. Mori addressed ambassadors and other representatives of some 50 countries and international organizations in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Mr. Mori says he feels, for the first time, that nations in the region are committed to confronting water-related crises.
The summit will also address water-related disasters, such as floods and tsunami, to which Asia-Pacific nations are particularly vulnerable.
Bangladesh's ambassador to Japan says countries such as his, which have long struggled with water-related crises, can contribute practical knowledge to help others in the region.
Ashraf ud-Doula points to his country's success with providing nearly all of its people with access to clean drinking water, virtually eliminating water-borne diseases and significantly reducing flood casualties. But he says funding will have to come from the wealthier nations.
"We can share our experience, how we have been able to effectively control, tackle, these issues," he said. "But, on the other hand, there is a need to have a partnership between the countries which are affected by the water-related issues, and the countries which can afford to fund the projects."
The group and the summit will also be supported by a number of United Nations agencies and various regional organizations, including the Asia Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
The summit meeting is to be held in the Japanese resort city of Beppu in December of next year.