Water is essential to sustain life. The availability of water in quantities, and of a quality, sufficient to meet basic human needs is a prerequisite both for improved health and for sustainable development.
Access to clean water for basic needs is a fundamental human right. Each generation must ensure that the abundance and quality of water is not diminished as a result of its activities.
Surface waters and groundwater are renewable resources with a limited capacity to recover from adverse impacts from human activities on their quantity and quality. Failure to respect those limits may result in adverse effects, in both the short and long terms, on the health and well-being of those who rely on those resources and their quality. Sustainable management of the hydrological cycle is essential for both meeting human needs and protecting the environment.
Available fresh water amounts to less than one-half of one percent of all the water on Earth. The rest is sea water, or is frozen in the polar ice. Fresh water is renewable only by rainfall, at the rate of 40-50,000 cubic kilometers per year. Global consumption of water is doubling every 20 years, more than twice the rate of human population growth. According to the United Nations, more than one billion people on earth already lack access to fresh water.
In their 1999 report, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) outlines the following ten principles to protect water: 1. Water belongs to the earth and all its species. 2. Water should be left where it is wherever possible. 3. Water must be conserved for all time. 4. Polluted water must be reclaimed. 5. Water is best protected in natural watersheds. 6. Water is a public trust to be guarded at all levels of government. 7. An adequate supply of clean water is a basic human right. 8. The best advocates for water are local communities and citizens. 9. The public must participate as an equal partner with government to protect water. 10. Economic globalization policies are not water sustainable.