The forgotten agenda item at Camp David
By: Amina Abdullayeva
May 28, 2012 (Toronto) – Water security was conspicuously absent from the Camp David Declaration issued at the conclusion of the G8 Summit. Considering that the Summit covered major global issues – from food scarcity to climate change to unrest in the Middle East – this shortcoming was disappointing.
The G8 has never been consistent in its treatment of water issues. The 2003 Evian Summit resulted in the strongest ever water-related G8 initiative in the form of the Water Action Plan that emphasised the importance of water and outlined the steps the G8 was prepared to take to alleviate the problem of water insecurity. The 2005 Gleneagles and the 2009 L’Aquila Summits also addressed this question rather seriously, evidenced by the inclusion of a whole section on it in the final communiqués. However, all the other summits touched upon the question of water only in passing, to various degrees; for example, the Muskoka Summit had nothing at all on it, just as Hokkaido, Heiligendamm, St.Petersburg, Sea Island, or this year’s Camp David.
This patchy record is disconcerting against the backdrop of increasingly worrying global developments. According to UN-Water, the world population will grow from 6.6 to 9.3 billion between 2007 and 2050, while the quantity of the world water resources will remain unchanged during the same period. Water consumption patterns are even more disturbing: while the average daily drinking water requirement is 2-4 litres per person, it takes 2000 to 5000 litres of water to produce an average person’s daily food. Clearly, food security commitments, emphasized so strongly at this year’s Summit, are unlikely to be achieved without proper attention to water.
In short, the Camp David Declaration would have been much more credible and comprehensive, if it devoted necessary attention to water security.