MEXICO CITY - "We will be present at the (Mar. 16-22) Forum to entertain and to provoke other kinds of reactions," Colombian photographer Vivian Bibliowicz, who will exhibit a collection of 20 photos revolving around the theme of water, told IPS.
Her exhibit, which is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), will be presented along with four others, parallel to the Mar. 17-22 First International Water and Film Event.
The World Water Forum is expected to draw some 8,000 participants from around the world.
The first three were held in Morocco (1997), the Netherlands (2000) and Japan (2003). The global water forums are organised by the World Water Council, an "international multi-stakeholder platform" involving business and the academic, scientific and social sectors. The Council's web site says it was created in 1996 "on the initiative of renowned water specialists and international organisations, in response to an increasing concern about world water issues from the global community."
"This is the first time that a water forum will include a film festival and other creative expressions, which are necessary, because they provide different perspectives on the issue," Salvador Aguirre, director of the First International Water and Film Event, commented to IPS.
In the Forum, which will be held in a convention centre owned by Banamex, a private Mexican bank, participants will discuss how to guarantee universal access to clean water and sustainable management of water resources.
Between two and five million people a day die of causes related to the scarcity of water or to poor quality water around the world, and one billion people lack access to clean water.
At this month's gathering in Mexico, government ministers and delegates of non-governmental organisations and the business community will share their experiences in water management, present proposals, and attempt to reach agreements.
Simultaneously, organisations that question the World Water Forum's close ties to business and accuse it of promoting the privatisation of water management will hold their own debates and stage demonstrations.
"As artists, we are not involved in politics or in the debate on whether or not the management of water should be privatised," said Bibliowicz. "What we are trying to do is to nudge people into seeing this natural resource from a different perspective."
"My idea is for the spectators to stand in front of the photos and let their imaginations take over," said the photographer.
Among the photos to be exhibited, one shows a car in a car wash, which looks as if it is about to enter an abstract painting; another focuses on the reflections of light in a jacuzzi; and a third shows a drop of water shaped like a human body.
"In these photos, water appears to be an intimate element, very near to people, present in their memory, as an indispensable component of the totality of their lives," said the curator of Bibliowicz's exhibit, Juan Antonio Molina, from Cuba.
Participants will also be able to choose from 80 different films, to be shown at the convention centre where the water forum is held, and in two other venues.
"A total of 240 tapes arrived, but we had to select only 80, which will be screened and will compete for prizes," said Aguirre.
An international seven-member panel will choose the three best films, which will win awards of 5,000, 3,000 and 2,000 dollars.
Audiovisual spots from around the world will also compete for prizes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 dollars.
"We received feature-length and short films from 48 countries and spots from 10, which shows that the call for participation in the event was a success," said the director of the film festival.
The films and spots that will be competing include professional and amateur productions, some of which were even produced by children.
"We have, for example, a video shot by youngsters from Bolivia and the Netherlands. The Bolivian kids talk about their water problems, while the Dutch kids reflect on the abundance of water and on how it is managed. It's really lively and interesting," said Aguirre.
Given the lack of a United Nations body that specifically deals with water issues, the World Water Forum has become the leading forum for the global debate on water resources. There is no binding global treaty on water similar to the climate change convention or biosafety protocol.
Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service