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UN environment agency launches website about freshwater issues

UN environment agency launches website about freshwater issues

With the world's drinking water resources in a declining state and fast becoming the major subject on the environment and development agenda for this century, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched a new website containing information about freshwater issues.

The UNEP.Net Freshwater Portal was created to help environmental assessment professionals and policy makers keep up to date with an extensive catalogue of information resources, ranging from documents and databases to maps and graphics. The site covers critical freshwater issues, including water scarcity, irrigated agriculture, water and sanitation, water quality, groundwater, transboundary water management, water and ecosystems, floods and droughts, and urban water.

The Portal is operated by UNEP/GRID-Arendal in Norway - one of the UN agency's partner offices dealing with environmental information systems and state of the environment reporting - and is part of the UNEP.Net information system, a network of cooperating centres facilitating access to environmental information from a broad range of information and data providers. Other special topic areas of UNEP.Net that are currently operational include Climate Change, the Arctic and the GEO Data Portal, which provides over 300 statistical data sets on a variety of topics.

According to UNEP, about one-third of the world's population lives in countries with moderate to high water stress. The problems are currently most acute in Africa and West Asia, but lack of water is already a major constraint to industrial and socio-economic growth in many other areas, including China, India and Indonesia.

If present consumption patterns continue, two out of every three persons on Earth will live in water-stressed conditions by the year 2025, UNEP said.