Access to clean water is one of the major problems faced by humanity at the beginning of the 21st Century. This problem is exacerbated by a long history of excessive and inadequate use of this natural resource, as well as pollution and increasing demands. To cope with this problem, the Science Academies of the Americas have decided to establish a regional programme to aid national governments in addressing this issue.
The challenges of water scarcity require a vigorous scientific, technological and managerial action in order to: adequately and better use the existing supplies; recover degraded surfaces and groundwater reserves; and secure for the future generations the necessary water resources. It is clear that water scarcity will be a major cause of the loss of opportunity for economic development in the years to come. To face this situation, it is necessary to improve programmes of conservation and to provide scientific and technological tools to assure a more rational use of water supplies.
Thus, the development of new strategies for water uses, water recycling, and conservation of rivers, lakes and reservoirs represent a most important challenge. Crucial components to this programme include: capacity building for water resources management; the development of research that will result in new water management strategies; and the education of society on the need for a more rational use of the existing water supplies.