Access to water is under threat!

by Stephanie Faucher | The Energy and Resources Institute
Monday, 16 December 2013 11:07 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The demand for water in the world has increased dramatically over the years, and wastewater and pollution threaten more and more the integrity of aquatic and agricultural ecosystems that are essential for life and food security.

Water use efficiency

Water scarcity and stiff competition for water resource have resulted in reduced water availability for irrigation. Therefore, production of food, fiber, fuel and other industrial products with decreased water availability is a major challenge. To overcome this problem, improvement in water use efficiency (WUE) must be ensured.

WUE is also a way for evaluating success of water management policy and analyzing the water saving performance of irrigation systems. There are several ways for enhancing WUE in irrigated agriculture. For example, increasing production per unit of water, reducing losses of water and reallocating water to higher priority uses (societal aspects) can help address the issue.

Water, energy and food

Water resources face increased pressure due to the continuous rising demand for growth and development activities across the world. With increasing complexities of peaking demand, inefficient use and added risks due to climate change, the prospective water availability scenario is set to be the greatest challenge of the 21st century.

Water for energy currently amounts to about eight per cent of global water withdrawals. Food production and supply chain is responsible for around 30 per cent of total global energy demand. Food production is the largest user of water at the global level, responsible for 80–90 per cent of consumptive blue water use. In 2050, with 9.2 billion people sharing the planet, it is expected that there will be a 70 per cent increase in agricultural demand for food and 40 per cent energy demand increase. Yet by 2030, the world will confront water supply shortage of approximately 40 per cent.

As we have seen, water, energy and food are inextricably linked and water scarcity would destabilize the balance.

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2014

Attaining Energy, Water and Food Security for All has been identified as the theme for the 14th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), to be held from 6-8 February, 2014 at New Delhi, India.

DSDS, which has been organized annually since 2001, is an international platform for exchange of knowledge on all aspects of sustainable development. Since its inception, the DSDS welcomed current and former Heads of State and Government, thought leaders, policy makers and academia to deliberate on myriad issues. Till now, the Summit has hosted 36 Heads of State, ministers from over 50 countries and delegates from across continents.

This widely recognized Summit will deliberate on the above and more related issues and strive to find ways forward, towards a greener and more sustainable future.

The water track

The water track event of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit will focus on the water resource use and allocation in the agricultural sector. The discussions will identify the key challenges in the judicious use of water for food security. It will specifically deliberate on regional disparities in crop-water productivities as well as the trade dimensions of food and water security.

India could adopt best available technologies developed by countries like New Zealand, Australia or Israel for enhancing WUE in irrigation. Future policy decisions to address the management of water resources in agriculture will be influenced by many diverse drivers. In developing countries like India, crop management, technology, climate variability, and energy costs for pumping water are particularly important to address this water shortage.

This track event will provide the right platform for taking the discussions forward. A comprehensive approach to resolving the inefficiencies of water use require inputs from policymakers, scientists, engineers and farmers. 

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