UN: Soaring Demands Will Add More Stress to World Water Supplies

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Despite recent good news that millions more people now have access to potable water, a new report finds sharply rising demands for water threaten a myriad of development goals.

Changing consumption patterns, rising food demands, rapid urbanization and climate change are piling pressure on our planet’s water supplies. These are among the main findings of a report released Monday (March 12) by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The findings will be debated at a major water meeting this week in the French port city of Marseille.

The study is not the first water warning. But Ulcay Unver, who coordinated the report, says water concerns tend to be too narrowly focused. “The crisis about water tends to be more local than global. And many of us, members of the general public, even decision-makers, fail to see the global picture, the global links from the local issues,” he said.

Last week, the U.N. announced that nations have met a key millennium goal five years ahead of schedule – to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. “We are talking about a very important component of water use. But it represents approximately 10 percent of water use. The rest is used for activities such as agriculture, industry. And there is also the aspect of dealing with the extremes of water, floods and droughts,” said Unver.

The report finds these other water uses are increasingly problematic. Sanitation infrastructure, for example, has failed to keep pace with rapid urbanization. Farmers are using much more water today to grow food crops for our rising population, and new consumption habits like eating more meat. By mid-century, the report says, the world will need 70 percent more water than it uses today.

Source: Voice of America (link opens in a new window)

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Agriculture, Entrepreneurship
Tags
farmers, scale, water