Groundwater assessment and management: implications and opportunities of globalization
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The present and predicted increase in groundwater's share of human freshwater withdrawals, its unprecedented importance for human activities globally, and the emerging threats from escalated and unplanned use and degradation, especially in the developing countries, point to the need for intensified efforts to cope with the imbalances. Despite these facts, there is little intervention by governments in developing countries. Sufficient knowledge, awareness and understanding of the groundwater resources and their proper management are missing in these countries, as well as in the international community. Links and trends are described, which highlight problem areas, such as water contamination, urbanization, and socio-economic factors related to groundwater management practices. Globalization provides novel opportunities for facilitating the process of acquiring and applying the necessary knowledge and can, and should, be further explored and developed. The likely benefits of this are: increase in convergence of understanding and approaches; the sharing of knowledge; and potentially wide-reaching, lasting, and scale-crossing networks. The international development and research community is in a particularly fortunate position to promote and facilitate such a process, which should go hand in hand with well focused and coordinated "on the ground" tasks, such as local networking, field investigations, capacity building, and advocacy activities.
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