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Special Edition: From Scarcity to Security
It's finally here! The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has released a new report, From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future, authored by Mark W. Rosegrant and cochaired by Ertharin Cousin and A.G. Kawamura, that examines how the world can best grow the food that we need to feed a rapidly rowing, urbanizing world in the face of increasing water insecurity.
This week, the news brief will be highlighting data and findings from the report. Next week, we will be sharing exciting content from the 2019 Global Food Security Symposium.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A farmer carries buckets of water in Playitas town, Nicaragua. World Water Day is marked on March 22. (REUTERS/Oswaldo Riva)
Supporting Food and Water Needs: By 2050 the global population is expected to increase to 9.8 billion, with 86 percent living in less developed countries and 70 percent living in rapidly growing urban areas.
Farmers will need to improve their food production capacity to meet the needs of the growing populace, while expanding urban areas will also demand more water from a steadily decreasing supply. Global demand for water is generally projected to increase by 30 to 50 percent by 2050.
The Importance of Water: Ertharin Cousin and A.G. Kawamura, cochairs of From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future, express the importance of water as “the starting point for food and for life.” They stress that strengthening our capacity to identify water scarcity and its impacts should be addressed immediately and write that, "aligning clean water development with agricultural development can yield multiple benefits and is crucial to producing enough nutrient-rich food for a growing global population."
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
Agriculture and Water: Major challenges for future food and nutrition security include water scarcity, increasing degradation of ecosystems and poor water quality. Agriculture and livestock accounts for 71 percent of all water usage and depends on a reliable source of water. With expected changes in demand, agriculture will be severely tested. Historically water-secure populations will be at threat of water-insecurity if water is not treated as a strategic, valuable, and limited resource.
Water Rights: If water rights, the moral and legal claims that people have to gather the water they need, are well-defined, water users will be more likely to invest in water-saving or income-enhancing technology. For water rights to be an effective tool, all users in a system must be able to participate. Gender equity is essential for water rights, irrigation raises land value but if not equally accessible to women, benefits will only favor the men.
Precision Agriculture: Improved water, land, and crop productivity will rely heavily on the continued improvement of technology. Precision agriculture, agriculture guided by advanced technologies, is developing rapidly with smallholder farmers in mind. Remote sensing technologies and satellite imagery will not only improve farming systems and irrigation management but also will create a dependable, ongoing source of data globally.
Adopting Sustainable Dietary Patterns: A shift in diets and nutritional content of convenience foods could help reduce GHG emissions and land use by as much as 70 to 80 percent. Changes to sustainable dietary patterns, for example reducing meat consumption and switching away from water intensive plants, would not only provide health benefits but has the potential to reduce water usage by 50 percent. School feeding programs have the potential to encourage current and future generations to consume sustainable and healthy foods.
Measuring Household Water Use: The Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) scale recently developed, provides a 12-item scale for measuring household water insecurity in any low- or middle-income setting. With HWISE, it is now possible to evaluate the prevalence and causes of household water insecurity and effectively intervene in a timely and appropriate manner. The scale will also provide beneficial feedback on the interventions for future eradication of water insecurity.
Continued US leadership is needed to ensure future prosperity
At home, the United States has been at the forefront of addressing agricultural water management by empowering entrepreneurial farmers through technological advancements, research, and innovative implementation models. From Scarcity to Security lays out four key actions that can be taken by the US government to advance successful, sustainable water management in agriculture to achieve a nourishing food system for all.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Virtual Water: The increased international trade in virtual water, the volume of water used to produce a good or service, has the ability to improve water, food, and nutrition security. Evidence shows that trade liberalization has the potential to reduce water use in water scarce regions. An analysis in Africa of virtual water trade found that undernourishment often declines when virtual water trade becomes more open.
Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation
Date: March 25-29
Location: Washington, DC
Date: April 9
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Innovation in Agrifood Supply Chains: Finance, Profitability, and Sustainability
Date: April 10-11
Location: Berkeley, California
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: June 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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