Let it Reign: The New Water Paradigm for Global Food Security

The food security issue is alarming: food needs are increasing, and food consumption is moving towards more water-intensive items. Irrigation possibilities are limited and agricultural land is shrinking. In pursuit of the human livelihood improvements identified in the UN Millennium Goals (MDGs), however, co-ordinating efforts in sectors can generate substantial synergies at a time when globally food consumption patterns are changing rapidly. Co-ordination is needed since today food consumption drives food production, which is dependent on water. Consumer food preferences in combination with new patterns in the processing and trade of food items are changing the consumptive use of water for food production and impacting the already stressed water resources, eco systems and the water available for other societal uses. Yet food production will always be highly water consuming, from both the “green” and “blue” water perspectives. For the projected per capita human diet of 3000kcal/day, water needs are 70times greater than for basic household water needs. Co-ordination is also needed since undernourishment is trending upwards – 852million people are hungry today. Paradoxically, overnutrition is equally rampant. These public health threats hinder people from fighting hunger, poverty and disease. This is the dilemma, and the opportunity. Eliminating undernourishment by 2025 may require as much additional water as is already withdrawn (often unsustainably) today for agriculture, industry and domestic uses; improved greenwater use and irrigation are crucial. Improved access to food, and the resource implications of trends in food consumption patterns also warrant due attention. This report highlights key facts, conditions and trends regarding water aspects of food production, consumption and ecological sustainability. It presents policy recommendations within governance, capacity building/awareness raising and financing in order to improve water productivity and increase the possibility to produce the food needed, improve diets, and raise consumer awareness – all in anequitable and ecologically sustainable manner.



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