Water use must be more efficient

GLOBAL LEADERS at the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm have called for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce losses of food in the supply chain, enhance water efficiency in agriculture and curb consumer waste.


More than a quarter of all the water we use worldwide is taken to grow over one billion tons of food that nobody eats. That water, together with the billions of dollars spent to grow, ship, package and purchase the food, is sent down the drain,” said Torgny Holmgren, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).


“Reducing the waste of food is the smartest and most direct route to relieve pressure on water and land resources. It’s an opportunity we cannot afford to overlook,” he added.


Over two thousand politicians, CEOs, scientists and leaders of international organisations from more than 100 nations are gathering in Stockholm, Sweden, for the annual World Water Week, which this year focuses on “Water and Food Security”.


In the over 100 sessions set to take place throughout the week, the convening experts will debate and showcase solutions to ensure that the planets limited water resources can meet the needs of growing economies and support a healthy global population. They will also discuss the latest innovations and successful practices to provide clean water and safe sanitation to those who don’t have it.


Participants will also discuss issues such as leasing foreign land for agricultural production, trade, human rights, climate change, and the links between food, water and energy production. The International Water Resource Economics Consortium (IWREC) will host a Chief Economist Panel debate on how to use economic policy instruments to manage water more efficiently.


“The numbers show that agriculture is a thirsty activity. But that also means that agriculture holds the key to sustainable water use,” said José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He added that investment in smallholder farmers is critical to achieve food and water security for all people.


Today, over 900 million people suffer from hunger, and two billion more face serious health risks from undernourishment. At the same time, 1.5 billion people overeat and over a third of all food is lost or wasted. Demand for food and fibre is projected to increase by 70% by the middle of the century and, without intervention, untenable pressure on water resources in many regions in the world is expected to threaten food and water security.