Stories tagged: World Water Week

Cooperating for Water Security – World Water Week 2013

This week, from 1 – 6 September, world leaders, NGOs and businesses will gather in Stockholm to discuss the future of water security at World Water Week.

Taking place during the UN’s International year of Water Cooperation the week will focus on ‘Cooperation for a Water Wise World’, which will include discussions on international cooperation, sanitation and community ownership of water.

Issues relating to water scarcity have been moving up the development agenda in recent years as more pressure has been placed on this resource than ever before. World Water Week will occur just under a month after World ‘Overshoot Day’, a day that marks the moment when the world has officially consumed more natural resources than the biosphere can replace this year. ‘Overshoot Day’ has been reached two days earlier than last year, demonstrating the increasing pressure on the world’s resources.

As the world works to achieve sustainable development, cooperation between sectors is essential to address the unprecedented pressures on natural resources.

The Importance of Agriculture in Achieving Water Security

The agriculture sector uses 70% of the world’s water – more than any other industry. As we look to feed a world of nine billion people by 2050 our demand for food – and water – is an interrelated, global challenge. Therefore there can be no solution for water security without agriculture.

Moreover, increased water scarcity is expected to lead to a decline in food production, harming many major crops throughout the world. For example the production of irrigated rice could fall by as much as 27%, rainfed wheat by as much as 25% and rainfed maize by 15%.

Gaining Momentum – Agriculture Acknowledged at World Water Week 2012

Last year the overarching theme of World Water Week was ‘Water and Food Security’, which looked at the close connections between the agriculture sector and water use, suggesting that a sustainable solution would only be achieved if both elements were considered.

A central discussion point of the week was the water-food-energy nexus and the need for holistic solutions to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. Food production uses a vast amount of the world’s water and energy resources but at the same time decreasing water and energy resources are having a dramatic impact on food security.

One of the major conclusions of the event was the need to produce ‘more with less’, increasing agriculture productivity using fewer resources. The conclusive report from the event states:

“Sustainable intensification of agriculture is critical to meet present and future food demand and will require effective action across a number of strategic areas. Maximising energy efficiency, improving irrigation productivity and expanding the safe re-use of water and nutrient resources are clearly needed to achieve this goal.”

The recognition of agriculture in providing solutions to water security at last year’s event was welcomed by Farming First, as agriculture holds a unique position both as a challenge and a solution to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

World Water Week 2013 – What role can agriculture play?

2.6 billion people still lack improved sanitation and just under one billion go to bed hungry every day. These two devastating statistics can be overcome if cooperation between water and agriculture policies can be achieved.

Farming First hopes that World Water Week 2013 will build on the promising discussions from last year on the water-food-energy nexus and acknowledge the agriculture sector as a key player in water security solutions.

The 2013 World Water Week report, released on 19 August, is a positive start to this year’s event, with agriculture being recognised throughout as vital “to achieve both food security and green growth objectives”.

The report suggests that this year’s theme of cooperation will look at the need to link stakeholders from water, food and energy sectors, stating:

“With renewed global focus on the ‘green economy’, and the challenge of meeting the sharply increasing food and energy demands, the need to address water, energy and food security as a particularly important ‘nexus’ has been highlighted. This calls for increased cooperation between these fields, with an ecosystems services perspective, sharing water benefits, costs and risks, and cooperating with the stakeholders concerned.”

Farming First hopes that uniting all these sectors to achieve water security next month will help to build substantial partnerships between key water and agriculture stakeholders, with sustainable agriculture being seen as a central solution to achieving water security.

Read the 2013 report here

To read more about World Water Week 2012 read Farming First’s highlights blog

Members of the Farming First coalition believe that:

  1. Water is a precious resource so improving its use is essential.
  2. Adopting proven sustainable agricultural practices reduces water use per bushel.
  3. Research, innovation, and access to improved technologies, seeds, and improved irrigation techniques are essential to increasing the efficiency of water use.
  4. Agriculture needs to be part of watershed management.







World Water Week

2013 has by the UN General Assembly been declared the “International Year of Water Cooperation“. The questions to be addressed in 2013 include: why do we need to cooperate, on what, for what aim, at what level, with whom and, not least, how?

From 1-6 September the Stockholm International Water Institute will host the annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden in an attempt to answer some of these questions.

World Water Week will see leading organisations, politicians, NGOs and UN representatives discuss the fragility of the world’s most important resource, water.

The event’s main theme is ‘Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships’ to coincide with the UN’s year of water and the programme includes thematic discussions, an ideas marketplace and field visits.

Farming First will Tweet live and post regular updates on the outcomes of the event, follow @farmingfirst to stay up to date.

For more information about the event click here

World Water Week Opens With a Call for Global Action to Reduce Food Waste

Over two thousand politicians, CEOs, scientists and leaders of international organisations have descended on Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual knowledge-sharing event hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute. The theme of this year’s conference is “Water and Food Security”.

The week opened with a global call to action to reduce food waste as a means to preserve water. At the opening session, global leaders 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.

Speaking at the opening session, Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said:

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. 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.

Over 100 sessions are scheduled to take place throughout the week, where convening experts will debate and showcase solutions to ensure that the world’s limited water resources can meet the needs of growing economies and support a healthy global population.

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), urged that agriculture has the potential to be an important part of the solution to achieving water security:

The numbers show that agriculture is a thirsty activity. But that also means that agriculture holds the key to sustainable water use. Investment in smallholder farmers is critical to achieve food and water security for all people.

Last week the Stockholm International Water Institute released a report: “Feeding a thirsty world: Challenges and opportunities for a water and food secure future”. Authored by a dozen experts from SIWI, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the report provides new evidence that shows how continuing current trends in food production could lead to increased shortages and intense competition for scarce water resources in many regions across the world.

Globally, 900 million people are hungry and two billion more people are under nourished. With 70 percent of all water withdrawals used in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land. These statistics speak for themselves and the solution is not simple and has many facets. As the report says:

Addressing the challenges related to “water and food security”, through the entire chain from production to beneficial use and waste, calls for focus on a wide range of technical, economic, financial, institutional, governance and political issues, with the “triple bottom line” of economic development, social equity and environmental sustainability guiding us.

Get involved with World Water Week and watch the live webcast.

Read more about applying the Farming First principles to increase water use efficiency.