Significant global environmental changes are being predicted by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the next 50 years, including doubling of atmospheric CO2 relative to its pre-industrial level, global mean temperature rise of 1°C, sea level increase by 20 cm and growth of the world human population by another 50%.

Given the particular vulnerability of many aquatic habitats, the Foundation for Environmental Conservation (FEC) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG) have called this landmark meeting for early 2003 to promote well-informed international debate about what the next quarter century might hold in store for all the water-based ecosystems of the earth. Directly following the World Day for Water in the International Year of Freshwater, declared by the United Nations General Assembly , the 5th ICEF will assess threats to resilience and likely changes in the 21 major aquatic systems over a time horizon of the next 25 years. For this purpose, FEC and EAWAG have engaged leading scientists from around the world to review each of the major marine and freshwater systems. The 5th ICEF will be held in Zurich at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and will offer environmental managers and opinion-formers a unique and objective basis for environmental strategy formulation at regional and global levels.


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