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As the world leaders seek "new" solutions to global challenges, they need to pay attention to an "age old" issue central to development: better water management. As was true 20 years ago in Rio, it is true today: "water resources management as part of the environment is part of the solution for sustainable development".Water and development are inseparable. This was a key message in the 1987 Brundtland report Our Common Future: "The environment and development are inseparable". Leaders at all levels now need to do the obvious: increase investments in the management and development of water resources. ?water 071

Recently, "green growth" has become the centre of policy debates about the economy and environment. The OECD reports that: "We need to make growth greener, to make our economic and environmental policies more compatible and even mutually-reinforcing. This is not just a matter of new technologies or new sources of renewable, safe energy. It is about how we all behave every day of our lives, what we eat, what we drink, what we recycle, re-use, repair, how we produce and how we consume."Reflecting on the global financial crisis, the United Nations General Assembly and several UN agencies underscored that the crisis represents an opportunity to promote green economy initiatives as part of the stimulus packages being put in place to support the recovery. Furthermore, when the General Assembly decided to call a UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, it chose as one of its major themes "a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication."Sustainable development emphasises a holistic, equitable and far-sighted approach. It emphasises not just strong economic performance but intra-generational and inter-generational equity. It rests on integration and a balanced consideration of social, economic and environmental goals and objectives in both public and private decision-making.WATER PROBLEMS = ECONOMIC PROBLEMSIncreases in greenhouse gases saw the last decade recording the highest global average temperatures. Climate change is disrupting the natural hydrological cycle causing havoc, destruction and unprecedented damage to economies worldwide through extreme climate events such as floods and drought. The IMF warns that deteriorating climatic conditions could lower GDP growth due to reductions in output and productivity, particularly in the least developed countries and in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and tourism.Without investment in water resources management to build climate resilience, natural shocks can cause dramatic falls in GDP growth. Climate variability is known (e.g. in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe) to reduce growth by as much as 38 per year with poverty worsening by 25 per cent in 12 years. Floods and droughts have a big impact on economies as well as in the loss of livelihoods and life. Yet more frequent and severe floods and droughts are a major result of the speeding up of the hydrological cycle, brought about by global warming. The World Bank estimates the 2010 flood damage in Pakistan to be about US$10 billion, while in Australia the estimated cost of rebuilding Queensland following the floods in 2011 is AU$9.8 billion. In Kenya, the 1997-98 floods caused an 11 per cent drop in GDP and the drought of 1999-2000, a further drop of 16 per cent. In Rwanda, the direct economic costs of the 2007 flood were estimated to be US$ 4-20 million in two regions. In 2002, 13 million people in southern Africa needed food relief due to drought, and today we see a similar situation unfolding in the Sahel.From the Himalayas to the Andes to Kilimanjaro, Credit: Rical Rodriguez/Nikki Sandinom Victoriano/PWP/GWP072 water