Press Releases

UNIS/INF/1
19 March 2004

Weather Aberrations on the Rise

“Water and Disasters” to Be the Central Theme of this Years World Water Day

VIENNA 19 March (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Interagency Strategy for Disaster Reduction in cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization -- Weather, Climate and Water (WMO), will be leading World Water Day 2004, on 22 March. Given the fact that three-quarters of all natural disasters are related to weather and climate extremes, the organizations will focus on the theme “Water and Disasters”.

Water-related disasters have disrupted national economies, severely weakened poor and vulnerable countries, and taken many innocent lives. Such disasters are recognised as impediments for sustainable development and reduction of poverty. In recent decades, people worldwide have experienced weather conditions that are both extreme, and unusual when compared with preceding years. Such aberrations seem to be growing in frequency. The fact that the world population is growing, and is increasingly concentrated in urban centres, has precipitated the rise in water-related natural disasters.

Several Vienna-based United Nations organizations are involved in projects linked to the theme of water, like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Inspired by the 2003 commemoration of the International Year of Freshwater, the Staff Council of the United Nations in Vienna has donated funds to finance two freshwater wells in Ethiopia.

The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), another organization affiliated with the UN, will celebrate later this year the first Danube Day on 29 June. That day marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 22 March as the World Day for Water in 1992, by passing Resolution 47/193. Its aim was to promote awareness of the extent to which water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well-being. Each year, one or more agencies of the UN System take responsibility for leading the celebration of the World Water Day.

Additional information on the World Water Day 2004 is available on the official website for the day (www.waterday2004.org).

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