Note to the reader from the UNU
The programme area of the United Nations University (UNU) on Sustaining Global Life-support Systems responds to the priorities identified in the "Agenda 21" emanating from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Within this programme area, the programme on Integrated Studies of Ecosystems aggregates issues of environmentally sustainable development from the entry point of the capacity of ecosystems and their ability to support, resist, or recuperate from the long-term impact of major transformations. Projects within this programme approach issues from three perspectives: One focus is on integrated studies of fragile ecosystems and other vulnerable regions in given geographical zones-mountains and lowlands, and fragile ecosystems in critical zones. A second set of projects covers improved methods of measuring and monitoring sustainability and environmental management. A third comprises sectoral studies of critical resources such as forests, oceans, biodiversity resources, and waters.
As a part of its activities concerned with water as a critical resource, the UNU is continuing to organize a series of projects that work to harness the inextricable link between water and geopolitics in arid and volatile regions. The aim is to identify the issues in disputes concerning water resources, select alternative scenarios that could lead to the solution of the complex problems related to water issues, and recommend processes through which the countries concerned are likely to agree on mutually satisfactory solutions to the problems.
The Middle East Water Forum held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1993, organized by the UNU, produced an authoritative book on the subject, entitled International Waters of the Middle East: From Euphrates-Tigris to Nile. The forum proved highly successful and contributed, informally but importantly, to the progress of the Middle East peace talks. The present book has emerged as a part of the UNU's continuing efforts in this field and is one of a series of books related to water issues and conflict resolution.
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