Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

2013 – International Year of Water Cooperation

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The following post is by Dr. Salman M.A. Salman, an academic researcher and consultant on water law and policy and a Fellow with the International Water Resources Association. Until December 2009, Dr. Salman served as Lead Counsel and Water Law Adviser with the Legal Vice Presidency of the World Bank. He can be reached at Salmanmasalman [at] gmail.com.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted on December 20, 2010, resolution 65/154, proclaiming 2013 as the “International Year of Water Cooperation.” The resolution, adopted without vote, called on all member states of the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to promote actions at all levels. Such actions include encouraging international cooperation, aimed at the achievement of the internationally agreed water-related goals contained in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the United Nations Millennium Declaration, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as to increase awareness of their importance. Celebrations of the World Water Day on March 22, 2013, will focus on plans and programs for achieving the objectives of this resolution. The purpose of this post is to trace the efforts of the United Nations to highlight the problems and challenges faced in the realm of water resources and to underscore the need for cooperation at all levels to address those problems.

UN World Water Day 3012The United Nations started paying attention to water resources in 1972. In June of that year, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Principle 2 of the Stockholm Declaration stated that “the natural resources of the earth including the air, water, land, flora, and fauna … must be safeguarded for the benefit of the present and future generations through careful planning and management.” Five years later, water resources received far reaching attention of the world community for two full weeks when the Mar del Plata Water Conference was held in Argentina, March 14 to 25, 1977. The Mar del Plata Action Plan included detailed provisions on water resources assessment, water use and management efficiency, the environment, the right to water, and international cooperation. One critical outcome of the conference was the proclamation of the period 1981 to 1990 as “the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade.”

The world community’s attention to the emerging problems facing water resources continued. In January 1992 the International Conference on Water and the Environment was held in Dublin, Ireland, and issued the “Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development.” The Conference underscored the fact that water resources management should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels. It addressed the two principles of water as an economic good, as well as the right to water at an affordable price. This meeting was followed six months later by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit “Actions on Sustainable Development” included a separate chapter (Chapter 18) on water resources which laid down detailed plans, programs and action plans to “satisfy the freshwater needs of all countries for their sustainable development.” Cooperation at all levels was highlighted as one important requirement for achieving this objective.

Building on the recommendations of the Rio Conference, the UNGA adopted on December 22, 1992, resolution 47/193, declaring March 22 of each year, as World Water Day, to be observed starting in 1993, and invited states to devote the day in the national context to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, and seminars related to the conservation and development of water resources.

A number of other actions in the water resources field were thereafter taken by the UNGA. The most important of those has been the adoption by the UNGA on May 21, 1997, by more than one hundred of its members, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. The Convention is predicated on the principle of cooperation of the watercourse states, and indeed it mentions the words cooperation/cooperate fifteen times. The Convention needs the ratification/acceptance of 35 parties to enter into force. Thus far 30 countries have ratified/accepted the Convention, raising hopes that the Convention may even enter into force during 2013, making the year also the year of international water cooperation (see Status of the Convention).

Furthermore, the UNGA adopted resolution 55/196 on December 20, 2000, proclaiming the year 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater, and called for concerted actions and efforts for better management and conservation of water resources, through inter alia, cooperation between the different users. This followed the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by the UNGA on September 8, 2000. One of the eight millennium development goals to be achieved by 2015 is reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. The UN Summit on Sustainable Development that was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002 added a similar goal with regards to sanitation. The need to achieve both goals was underscored by the UNGA resolution 58/217 adopted on December 23, 2003, which declared the period 2005 – 2015 as the “International Decade for Action, Water for Life,” and stated that the goals of the decade should include a greater focus on water related issues at all levels to achieve the internationally agreed goals.

The UNGA decided to give similar attention to sanitation, and addressed this matter through resolution 59/228 adopted on December 22, 2004, as well as resolution 61/192 of December 20, 2006 which proclaimed 2008 as the international year of sanitation.

The fact that close to one billion people lack access to improved water resources, more than two and a half billion people are without provision for sanitation, and one and a half million children under five die annually of water-borne diseases are constant reminders of the challenges facing humanity in the field of water resources. It should also be added that by 2050 one fourth of world population will live in countries with chronic water shortage, mostly in the Middle East and Africa.

Thus, the declaration of 2013 as the international year of water cooperation and the celebrations that will take place on March 22 this year should mark as another important reminder that cooperation is needed at all levels – among individual and corporate users, districts and provinces within the country, and more importantly among states – to manage, share, protect and conserve the most vital heritage of mankind, its water resources, so as to address these challenges.

Botswana Court Awards Kalahari Bushmen Water Rights

Friday, January 28th, 2011

After eight years of litigation, on January 27, 2011, the Kalahari Bushmen of Botswana won the right to access borehole water in their ancestral lands located in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The victory came when a court of appeals unanimously struck down a lower court ruling that had previously denied the Bushmen access to the borehole (Court’s Decision).

Although the decision was not predicated on a human right to water, the court referred to General Comment 15 of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (here), and the 2010 UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Human Rights and Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (here) (which the court misidentified as a UN General Assembly document) to address the Botswana constitutional issue of whether the Bushmen had been “subjected … to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment” as a result of the denial of access to the borehole. The court ruled that by prohibiting the Bushmen from using, at their own expense, borehole water for domestic purposes, the Botswana government had violated the Bushmen’s constitutionally protected rights.

Accordingly, the court ordered that the Bushmen have a right at their own expense to re-commission the contested borehole and to sink new boreholes in the Reserve so long as the water is used for domestic purposes.

The full text of the final appellate judgement can be found here.

UNGA Declares Water a Human Right … Which means what?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Just a few days ago, on 28 July, the UN General Assembly declared the obvious – “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation [is] a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” I say “the obvious” because there seems to be little argument that water is fundamental to life. The disagreement, though, lies in the formulation of the right and what obligations it actually creates.

Does it mean that water should be provided free of charge? By whom? And who should cover the costs? Does it mean that water of a certain quantity and quality must be provided, or would any water do? Does it mean water at your tap or kitchen sink, or merely in the village square? Moreover, against whom would the right be enforceable? Against your own government, or that of another? And, does it create rights in nations as against other countries? Should water-rich Canada be obliged to provide for the water needs of parched Middle Eastern nations?

Unfortunately, the Resolution is long on prologue and short on details. In addition to the above assertion, it also calls on nations and international organizations to fund the realization of “safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all” and encourages the ongoing work of the UN Human Rights Council and its independent expert, Catarina de Albuquerque, on the subject and request that her forthcoming report to the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly to include “the principal challenges related to the realization of the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation and their impact on the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.” Nothing more.

This lack of detail actually was at the heart of the opposition to the Resolution. Yes, there were some who actually tried to prevent its adoption. But not because they thought a human right to water is a bad idea. Rather, they felt the Resolution undermined the formal process underway by the Human Rights Council for developing a substantive and well-formulated human right to water. As asserted by the US representative in his explanation of why the United States abstained in the vote:

“This resolution describes a right to water and sanitation in a way that is not reflective of existing international law; as there is no ‘right to water and sanitation’ in an international legal sense as described by this resolution.

“The United States regrets that this resolution diverts us from the serious international efforts underway to promote greater coordination and cooperation on water and sanitation issues. This resolution attempts to take a short-cut around the serious work of formulating, articulating and upholding universal rights. It was not drafted in a transparent, inclusive manner, and the legal implications of a declared right to water have not yet been carefully and fully considered in this body or in Geneva.”

In other words, it was premature and possibly ill-considered. This objection by the United States, though, was not an isolated protest. As the record of the vote indicates, 40 other countries abstained, including a majority of the developed world. Yet, a number of European nations, including Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland sided with the majority (122 votes in favor) suggesting that the objections are grounded more in the ideology and interpretation of the right itself rather than in any political or socio-economic debate. Moreover, as I have suggested in the past, the objections are probably also based on the complexities of implementing such a right, including addressing how to finance implementation of the right (see my post on water marketing).

Despite its shortcomings, the Resolution is definitely a milestone. While legally non-binding, this statement by the highest of international assemblies indicates that the notion of water as a human right is gaining traction. At the very least, it adds moral (and potentially political) weight to the belief that governments have a responsibility to ensure safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation, at least for their own citizens if not for all. Moreover, it adds to the momentum of those championing the right and suggests that they may be gaining ground on their ultimate goal – a legally binding obligation.

Why do so many governments oppose a human right to water?

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The voices championing a human right to water seem to be getting louder, and many national governments are being openly chastised for a lack of leadership, vision, and responsibility (see, e.g., PLOS Medicine’s editorial declaring “Clean Water Should Be Recognized as a Human Right”; the Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick’s article on The Human Right to Water; Maude Barlow’s “A UN Convention on the Right to Water An Idea Whose Time Has Come). At the World Water Forum held this past March in Turkey, for example, more than 20 countries challenged the Ministerial Declaration for failing to define water as a human right and opting instead to describe water as a human need (see Council of Canadian press release). Yet, countries like the United States are holding steadfast that “there is at present no internationally agreed right to water or human right to water, and there is no consensus on what such a right would encompass” (see ENN Article).

 

Why do governments – such as those of the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Canada, and Egypt (see ENN Article) – oppose the notion of a human right to water? What is it about such a right that contravenes so many countries’ national interests?

 

Is it a concern that fresh water resources would be squandered under governmental control, or the corollary ideology that the private sector could provide water to the masses more effectively than any governmental scheme? This is the justification espoused by many non-governmental opponents of the human right to water who typically commend the virtues of the free market and private sector for managing the world’s fresh water resources (see, e.g., the work of Fredrik Segerfeldt here and here, articles in The Economist here and here, and an article by Fortune Magazine’s Marc Gunther writing for The Huffington Post here).

 

According to the US position:

“Establishing an international right to anything raises a number of complicated issues regarding the nature of that right, how that right would be enforced, and which parties would bear responsibility for ensuring these rights are met … To date, there have been no formal intergovernmental discussions on these issues. It would therefore be premature to agree to such a right” (see ENN Article).

 

To a large extent, this sounds more of an academic or procedural debate rather than a substantive national concern. And as strenuously as it is asserted by countries like the US, its tone rings more of pretext rather than of meaningful explanation.

 

While there is much to be said about pursuing the formalities of international law, I suspect that governmental trepidation over a human right to water is based on a more elemental concern. Nations and governments are likely troubled by the responsibility and liability that would be associated with a human right to water. In other words, they are afraid to fail; afraid of being accountable if they fall short of the obligation that would accompany a right to water. Given the enormity of the problem, though, that may be an understandable concern. According to a 2008 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are some 884 million people globally without access to clean drinking water and more than 2.5 billion who lack access to minimal sanitation services, all of which results in millions of deaths every year directly attributable to these deficiencies. These are staggering numbers, numbers that many governments might want to sweep under the rug. And the US is no exception – in 2000, there were nearly two million people without access to basic water and sanitation services (see the report by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership).

 

The concern, however, is probably also propelled by the projected costs associated with ensuring clean and safe water for everyone globally. According to a study in the WHO’s Bulletin, the cost of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (adopted in 2000) for water and sanitation (to “halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”) would require the world community to invest some US$70 billion annually between 2005 and 2014. Considering the principle of diminishing marginal returns, the cost of guaranteeing clean and safe water for everyone on the planet would likely be far more than double that figure.

 

Recognizing and ensuring a right to water will certainly not be an easy undertaking.  There are likely to be considerable social and political costs, as well as economic ones. Nonetheless, upholding a human right to water may actually be in the best interests of nations and governments around the world. As an issue of responsibility, many nations – in both the developed and developing worlds – already guarantee human, civil, and social rights and entitlements that impose considerable obligations on their governments, from public health guarantees to worker protections to lifeline utility rates. And all too often, these nations (including those in Europe and the United States) find themselves short of the mark. Yet, these regimes face their failures, often by the strength of their citizenry, and they endure. And in the ultimate calculus of social development, they are better off for it, for that is the essence of democracy.

 

Moreover, implementing and enforcing a human right to water could actually yield considerable economic advantages. According to Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations attached to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, the return on investments in proper sanitation alone may be as high as 9 to 1 (see statement of de Albuquerque). These include benefits associated with improved human health and reduced public health care expenses, improved worker productivity, and more stable markets. A similar appraisal of expanding fresh water availability to those without would likely reveal analogous returns on investment.

 

Although the notion of a human right to water seems so fundamental and instinctive, the fact that we debate its existence often seems inimical to our own existence. Yet, in most of our communities and nations, we consider life extraordinary and deserving of protection, at least from the vagaries of human action. If each human life is so singular and so vital, the debate over the human right to water should focus on how best to achieve the right rather than on the fallibility of government to succeed in its implementation; it should address the issues of costs and compliance with such a right rather than its theoretical existence or absence; it should consider the implications of a right to water for countries’ national interests and objectives rather than the niceties of international law.

 

While certainly a cliché, water truly is life. For without water, life as we know it cannot exist. It is time that governments and nations reassess their national interests, face their responsibilities to their peoples, and think seriously about a human right to water.

 

See also my prior post on Water Marketing v. Human Rights.

In memory of Fadia Daibes Murad

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

In memory of Fadia Daibes Murad

A few days ago, friends and colleagues commemorated the life of Fadia Daibes Murad, a Palestinian water law and policy expert who died in a car crash on her way back to Ramallah from the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. Fadia had long been an advocate for Palestinian water rights in the difficult contest between Palestinians and Israelis. She had also been a stalwart voice on women’s issues and was widely known as an intelligent and articulate champion of human rights.

 

While I had heard about Fadia previously, I got to know her during our participation in Track II negotiations over water issues between Palestinians and Israelis under the framework of the Geneva Initiative. During that process, I found Fadia to be wonderfully energetic and approachable, someone with whom you could argue intelligently and not get caught up in idealism. While Fadia certainly held strong opinions about the Palestinian rights, water allocations, and related issues, she could also recognize and acknowledge opposing positions. Most important, she had a wonderful personality that welcomed conversation and that made everyone feel at ease.

 

I do not know what influence Fadia had on the Palestinian side. But from my discussions with some Israelis, I know that she found respect on that side. And that is the essence of the ongoing dispute – a loss of respect and trust that will keep peace at bay so long as both parties ignore each other’s human dignity and fail to recognize each other’s rights. I can only hope that for the sake of peace, the Palestinians and the Israelis have someone to fill her shoes.

 

I was not able to attend Fadia’s memorial, but her memory remains with me. Fadia’s untimely death is a tremendous loss to her family and friends. It is also a loss to those devoted to the cause of peace in the Middle East. Her absence will be sorely missed.

 

Here are a few links to some of Fadia’s recent work:

·         Interview at the World Water Forum in Istanbul where Fadia represented the Gender and Water Alliance on the topic of water and conflict from a gender perspective.

·         Statement of Dr. Fadia Daibes Murad at 5th World Water Forum.

Bond Fights Evil Corporate Water Company

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

The other day, I watched the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. While the action/thriller had more in common with the recent Borne series than the Bond films of my youth, one of the subplots particularly intrigued me. After losing a dogfight over the Bolivian desert, Bond and his companion parachute into a sinkhole where they discover that Quantum (the evil criminal organization) has blockaded Bolivia’s fresh water supply which, apparently, in the movie, flows through the desert in subterranean rivers). Piecing together information from some of the prior scenes, you also learn that Quantum’s agent (Dominic Green) is in the process of buying that desert from a Bolivia general planning to overthrow his government.

Although private ownership of fresh water resources is not new, this film seems to take the concept to the “logical” extreme opposed by the likes of Maude Barlow and others. Certainly, there is much left unanswered in this subplot, but the film suggests that once evil Quantum obtains the desert from the would-be Bolivian ruler, it would have full possessory rights in and to the underlying water – a “rule of capture” approach to water rights. Why would a company (evil or not) want to have such rights? That becomes apparent in a later scene where the general is coerced into signing a contract granting Quantum’s agent an exclusive and overpriced water provision contract for the country. In other words, Barlow’s worst nightmare comes true.

I cannot say that such possibilities do not concern me or that all corporations working in the water sector have evil intent. Yet, unregulated private ownership of one of the most important components of life is quite troubling. Moreover, as I stated before, there is “a fundamental human notion that water is so elemental to life that it deserves a unique status in our societal system.” Nonetheless, I do think that there is a viable middle ground and having blogged about it previously, I will not rehash the issue.

Nonetheless, I wonder whether this film is a harbinger of what’s to come? Are there already any lakes, rivers, or aquifers that are wholly owned by a private company? Note that by “owned,” I do not mean a mere right to use or access the water for a defined period of time. Rather, I mean full-blown, unrestricted ownership – where the company has complete legal title to each and every molecule of water in the water body. None come immediately to mind, but I suspect that some of you may be able to point out examples.

Friends of the Earth Middle East and World Bank’s report on restrictions on Palestinian water sector

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) – a regional environmental NGO composed of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians cooperating to promote sustainable development and sustainable peace in the region – recently issued the statement Water Being Held Hostage to the Conflict.  The statement is a response to the recently released World Bank report Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development (PDF) (see the press release here), which “reveals the extent to which water resources and sustainable development are being held hostage to the conflict.”

 

In its statement, FoEME “calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to replace the failed Joint Water Committee (JWC) with a new joint water management structure.”  It also calls on “the Quartet led by the new Administration of US President Barak Obama to focus on the dire Palestinian water economy as a matter of urgency and help the parties replace the JWC with a new institution that empowers both sides as equal partners.”

 

Referring to its past reports, FoEME asserted that the Joint Water Committee had “failed the interests of both peoples, not providing the water quantities needed to Palestinians and not protecting shared Israeli/Palestinian water resources from large scale pollution.”  Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of FoEME, said in the statement that: “It is time to replace the failed mechanism of the Joint Water Committee, established under Oslo, with an institution where Palestinians and Israelis are true partners in both water supply and management responsibilities.”

 

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of FoEME (and a friend of mine), stated: “The irony is that due to the water crises, following 5 consecutive years of draught, pollution largely from Palestinian sources poses an ever increasing threat to the declining shared water reserves … A key problem with the JWC is that it has disempowered the Palestinians from being able to take responsibility for water management. The Palestinians receive so little of the shared water, that Israelis must ask themselves, what incentive do Palestinians have to protect shared water from pollution?”

 

The statement notes that “In 2008, FoEME released a Model Water Agreement that called for the replacement of the Joint Water Committee with a new body where equivalent powers and responsibilities would lie with both sides covering all shared water resources.”

US Politicians Introduce Water for the World Act

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

 

Yesterday, 22 April 2009, Members of the US House of Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.) introduced the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, the successor to the 2005 Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act. A bill is intended to commit the US government to provide 100,000,000 people around the world with first-time access to safe drinking water and sanitation on a sustainable basis by 2015.

 

The legislation had previously been introduced to the US Senate on 17 March 2009 by Senators Dick Durbin, Patty Murray and Bob Corker.

 

You can find the statements of Representatives Blumenaur and Senator Durbin on their legislation.

Water marketing vs. human rights

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Two recent articles in The Economist – Water: Sin aqua non and Water rights: Awash in waste – suggest that the solution to world’s water problem is to improve efficiency. The articles explain, rightly, that “there is, globally, no shortage of water” and point at wasteful practices, especially in the agricultural sector, as a chief culprit in global problems related to water scarcity.  The authors, however, tread on sacred grounds by pooh-poohing the treatment of water as a basic human right (“Treating it as a right makes the scarcity worse”) and argue for a system of tradable water-usage rights. “Any economist knows what to do: price water to reflect its value.”

 

While the ideal of pricing water resources at their true value may have a ring of sanity in the abstract, in reality it threatens a fundamental human notion that water is so elemental to life that it deserves a unique status in our societal system. Many of the world’s religions, for example, regard water as a gift from God that cannot be bought or sold lest the gift be dishonored.  Moreover, by taking a purely economic approach to a component of life relegates life itself to the market.

 

Yet, there may be a viable middle ground, one that strikes a balance between the absolute needs of individual people for survival and growth, and those of society to ensure efficiency and, hence, the overall and long-term supply of fresh water resources.  While actual uses vary around the world, agriculture accounts for 70-80% of global water withdrawals, while industry takes less than a fifth.  That leaves less than 10% as the amount actually used for domestic purposes and sanitation by a population pushing seven billion.  What would happen if people were afforded a human right to access some minimal amount of water and then subject amounts used in commercial enterprise to the market?

 

According to the World Health Organization, the average person requires 20 L per day for basic subsistence and up to 70 L per day for maintaining a minimum quality of life.  Obviously, such minimum will vary depending on the climate of the individual’s environment.  Yet, on a global scale, this would be a proverbial drop in the buckets of global water withdrawals and consumption.  Certainly, some nations may have difficulty meeting even this minimal guarantee due to local scarcity of fresh water resources. And in such cases, the global community should step forward and help their fellow human beings.  Yet, the vast majority of countries should have little difficulty in providing and assuring access to such quantities.

 

As for the amounts used by agriculture and industry, water could be managed using market mechanisms that allow it to be traded as either a commodity or in the context of tradable usage rights.  As The Economist notes, “Water is rarely priced in ways that reflect supply and demand … Because most water use is not measured, let alone priced, trade rarely reflects water scarcities.”  The result is a highly inefficient system that justly could be accused of waste.  Again, The Economist: “Because water is usually free, thirsty crops like alfalfa are grown in arid California. Wheat in India and Brazil uses twice as much water as wheat in America and China. Dry countries like Pakistan export textiles though a 1kg bolt of cloth requires 11,000 litres of water.”

 

Even amounts used by people beyond a guaranteed allotment could be subject to pricing mechanisms and regulated market forces.  A tiered pricing system, for example, would allow for personal use beyond a minimum lifestyle (e.g., swimming pool) to those who can afford it while maintaining a minimum standard for all people.  It could also be used to subsidize the minimum guarantee for the rest of the population, at least for those who cannot afford even the basic cost.

 

Of course, the natural environment has yet to be addressed in this system.  And clearly, water for ecosystems, habitats, and species must be ensured through regulations that protect minimum instream flows, aquifer integrity, water quality, and other aspects of the environment.  Nonetheless, while we certainly have much more to do to on this front, ensuring water for the environment should not have to conflict with either recognizing access to water as a basic human right, or subjecting amounts used in commercial enterprise to the market.  Currently, when we total the percentages of water used by people, agriculture, and industry as 100%, we are simply identifying the amount withdrawn and used for human endeavor.  It in no way reflects the quantities of water left in rivers and aquifers, whether intentionally or not.  Certainly, in many parts of the world, that amount is inadequate for the needs of the environment, but that is, in part, a product of our current inefficiencies.  Yet, it is also a function of our priorities.  By enhancing efficiency and at the same time securing minimal guarantees for people everywhere, the reduced water stress would likely allow the raising of environmental priorities.