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Discussion on freshwater began with the introduction of the Secretary-General's report (E/CN.17/1994/4) and the inter-agency Task Manager's report presented by the FAO. The reports of the intersessional meetings also contributed to the substantive discussion. They included the International Ministerial Conference on Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation, hosted by the Netherlands in March 1994, and the Roundtable on Water and Health, hosted by France in February 1994.

There was little debate during the discussion of the Chair's draft text. There was general support for the role of women in the planning and management of water resources, and the focus on pollution prevention. There was also support for the development of indicators, although this is not reflected in the final text. Pakistan suggested the creation of a fund to identify, develop and share water related technologies, however, this was not supported and the final text asks governments to mobilize finances within the framework established by chapter 33 of Agenda 21.

The final text (E/CN.17/1994/L.5) urged that special attention be given to: integrated management of water, river and lake basins; the involvement of people that are most directly affected by water management strategies in the planning of water infrastructure projects; implementation of the polluter pays principle; encouragement of partnership projects between all parties concerned; promotion of a gender perspective in water resources management; promotion of education programmes; promotion of greater efficiency of sustainable water use; promotion of afforestation to halt soil degradation and increase moisture retention; and the use of environmental impact assessments.