Photo courtesy of United Nations
2012 World Water Week opened today in Stockholm, Sweden with a call for global action for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce food waste -from the farm to the table. Global leaders and experts are looking into ways to reduce production and consumption waste and advance water efficiency in agriculture.
Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the World Water Week organizer, said that, "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 asserted at the opening session.
"More than one-fourth 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," Mr. Holmgren warned.
In its efforts to promote global shifts toward cutting food waste and using water more efficiently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched an action framework that the UN states, "Will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste".
As it stands, nearly 1 billion people suffer from hunger and two billion more face serious health risks from undernourishment. Meanwhile, 1.5 billion people overeat and over one-third of all food is lost or wasted. Looking ahead, by 2025, it is estimated around 1.8 billion people will be living in areas with absolute water scarcity.
Among other key efforts surrounding World Water Week, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is also promoting simple technologies to help produce more food despite increasing water scarcity, says the UN.
Rudolph Cleveringa, Technical Advisor for Water and Rural Development at IFAD stresses the dependence that we all have on food and water, noting that, "Seventy percent of the earth's fresh water is destined to agriculture. So you can imagine there is a lot of pressure on that water for food security, he said.
Literally on the ground, Cleveringa observes that, "People are coping with it already. They are building up their own resilience to this water stress. Now we can of course enhance that resilience and their capacities by improving methods by which they can either grow different crops; they can do their cropping in a more water saving measure; they can save water; they can recycle water and nutrients and energy with it. And of course if they have the means and markets around them they can go into precision agriculture – higher value crops that consume less water but yet yield a better interest," he explained.
The UN reports that one in three people across the globe are currently living with water scarcity, and the problem is growing, the world body warns, noting that by 2050, when the world population is expected to top 9 billion people, at least 10 percent more water will be needed to produce enough food.
With this year's focus on ''Water and Food Security" World Water Week has brought together more than two thousand government representatives, CEOs, scientists and leaders of international organizations from more than 100 countries across the globe.
World Water Week has been convened annually since 1991 by the Stockholm International Water Institute. FAO and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research are collaborating partners this year. Stakeholders including UN Agencies, global leaders, organizers and experts are concurrently calling for action -saying that the time to act is now.