The UN-sponsored Conference on Water at Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1977 was the first step in the direction of improving international cooperation and coordination in the management of global water resources. Recognition of the need for an international water policy organisation grew and intensified in the 1980s and early 1990s.
These principles were endorsed in 1992 at conferences on water and the environment, held in Dublin and Rio, respectively. As articulated in the Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development, and Agenda 21, they stress that:
o Fresh water is finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment;
o Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels;
o Women play a central part in the provision, management and safe guarding of water;
Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good.