Government officials and water experts, along with sanitation and climate change professionals, are gathering in Istanbul for the World Water Forum, which begins Monday.

The weeklong conference offers scientists and politicians from all over the world an opportunity to discuss ways to achieve water security.

The world meetings on water supplies and security are held every three years, and this will be the fifth forum.  Participants will discuss ways to manage water disasters, finance and develop sanitation systems, address climate change, and balance food and biofuel production.

Ahead of the conference, the International Committee of the Red Cross called on world powers to give victims of armed conflict better access to water and sanitation services.

A United Nations report released last week gives a grim assessment of the world's water supply, especially in developing countries.  

"Water in a Changing World," compiled by 24 U.N. agencies, says population explosion and climate change are straining the water supply.  

The world's population has already reached at least 6.5 billion and is expected to be 9 billion by 2050.  

The report says population growth, especially in cities in poor countries, is already driving an explosive demand for water, forcing governments to rely on rivers and aquifers polluted by growing human settlements.  

The report warns that the current mining for water could result in water deprivation for future generations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.