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Sunday, July 30, 2000

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah accepts invitation to become Chairperson of the International Network on Water, Environment and Health

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah has accepted to become Chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the International Network on Water, Environment and Health, a program of the United Nations University dealing with the global water crisis threatening sustainable development.

"I think she brings, and will be seen to bring, essentially the endorsement of the developing countries to our program," said INWEH Director Ralph Daley. "She comes from a country that is still developing, particularly in terms of its water resources, and it's a very influential country, both in the Middle East and globally."

INWEH was created in 1996 with $4.2 million funding from Canada to address the worldÕs growing water crisis and to strengthen water management abilities in developing countries.

The Program initiates and manages water-related projects that build national and regional capacity to protect the environment and human health.

The program's activities include education and training, research to measure and understand aquatic systems, initiatives to legislate and regulate clean water systems, and providing water infrastructure, services and products.

Over the next five years, INHWEH's goals include expanding and consolidating its work to create effective capacity-building programs in the Middle East, Latin America, and Eastern and Southern Africa.

In the Middle East, the Program will focus on water conservation, groundwater management and marine ecosystems.

The Program's key projects initiated or completed to date in the Middle East include strategy planning for improved coastal zone management in Abu Dhabi, restructuring study for the Palestinian Ministry of Environment, environmental impact assessment study of Gaza Strip groundwater well, municipal environmental training and regional groundwater assessment in Aqaba, as well as regional Middle East workshops on environmental information systems in Amman and Abu Dhabi.

The Canadian-based program has offices in Mexico City and Amman as well as a sub-office in the Palestinian Territories.

Approximately 120 experts from 50 institutional partners, including governmental and private sector institutions, Canadian provincial and municipal agencies, non-governmental and professional associations, have been involved in INWEH's projects.

Following it's five-year review of progress towards sustainable development since the 1992 Earth Summit, the U.N. General Assembly called for "the highest priority to be given to the serious freshwater problems facing many regions, especially in the developing world."

According to INWEH, such water problems contribute to a growing human toll each year, including the death of 2.9 million children. By UN estimates, two thirds of humanity will face shortages of clean freshwater by the year 2025.

INWEH is one of eight programs affiliated with the Tokyo-based United Nations University that was established in 1969.