V FRIEND World Conference, Havana, Cuba, 2006 Hydrological Impacts of Climate Variability and Change Selected presentations on Latin America and the Caribbean

The science of water is an endless world for scientific research and creativity, in the water all the needs converge, the feelings and human traditions, water is the origin of life and its sustain, water is food supply, and it is also a base of the culture, traditions and religions; and, unfortunately, the cause of diverse conflicts among people and countries. Water is a renewable, but finite resource, endangered in many places by its non-rational use, in such a proportion, that the unmeasured disposal of pollutants in the water bodies or its exploitation over its natural capacity of renewal, might also put at risk its condition of renewable resource. Water is under the threat of climatic change that will affect its spatial and temporal distribution in a negative way in every place. The environmental situation of Latin America and the Caribbean is fragile, and particularly in relation to water many threats exist that justify the need of urgent actions. The intensive deforestation in the tropical forest and woods from temperate and cold regions; the modification or destruction of coastal ecosystems, the high degree of erosion due to inadecuated agriculture practices and incorrect use of the soil; the indiscriminated use of chemical and synthetic products in agriculture and urban industries; integrated to global environmental problems, among them, climate change and the ozone layer depletion, are being felt in different degrees in various parts of the continent. An evaluation of the Forum of Ministries of Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean, carried out in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 2000, recognized the continuation of the environmental deterioration in the region and in analizing the problem of water, the following were indicated among the main problems: