Club of Tokyo

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In his opening statement at the first meeting of the Club of Tokyo, Professor Asit K. Biswas declared that water management practices are likely to change more during the next 20 years compared to the past 2000 years. Professor Biswas, who is the President of the Third World Center for Water Management is co-founder and co-chair of the Club of Tokyo along side Dr. Kazuo Takahasi, Director of the International Development Research Institute (FASID). [1]

The first meeting of the private Club of Tokyo took place at the Japan Foundation, Tokyo on 25-26 September 2000. Though the meeting was entitled “For A Global Water Policy Dialogue” it was a private, invite-only meeting. Members were selected by a panel of “water experts” who were asked to identify the most influential water personalities. 14 people were selected and all agreed to join the club (list of members below). The club says of its members, that “because of their acknowledged technical and intellectual capabilities and their very senior positions (they) can influence and informally give direction to global discussion and agenda on water.”[2] “Very senior policy-makers” were invited to join these members in the first meeting. It was agreed upon in the first meeting that the Club would meet once a year.

The results of the first meeting were published in a report and this document clearly signals the neoliberal direction of this club. The report gives an overwhelming sense of urgency on the part of its members and a perceived need to develop a conceptual framework that would guide global water policy. At the conclusion of the meeting the club members agreed that “overall visions are still missing on what is needed at global, regional and national levels both for the present and also for the next 20-25 years, and most importantly, how these visions could be accomplished.” “The main objective,” the report notes, “would be to foster a new culture, and a new thinking which would be flexible enough to reach the different level of society.”[3] Members called for the inclusion of all parties, individuals or institutions interested in the management, operational aspects, planning and operation of water-related activities. Members also favour water pricing and demand management techniques to “promote more efficient and equitable water management and conservation practices.” The group justifies cost-recovery practices on the basis of their belief that the poor pay more for water that is delivered by tankers or sold by water vendors. The report notes, “to achieve a more efficient water allocation to an increasingly higher number of population, it may be logical to consider that costs, at least in terms of operation and maintenance of the necessary infrastructures, be recovered.”[4]

Ultimately the club members identified two priority issues that they will work on over the next decade: “analysis and review of established paradigms with the objective of finding implementable frameworks, and water pricing and cost-recovery.”[5]

The second meeting if the Club was held November 2001 in Aswan, Egypt. The third meeting was August 2002 in Alexandria Egypt. The first three meetings concluded the first phase of the Club of Tokyo.

Members of the Club of Tokyo