World Water Week: A closer look at Water and Food Security

23 August 2012 | News story

A growing population, a changing climate, ecosystems under stress, and rising energy needs, how can we ensure water and food security for all? This year the Stockholm World Water Week, taking place from 26-31 August, will look specifically at the future of water and food security.

Feeding 7 billion people whilst maintaining the health of natural ecosystems and livelihoods is a huge challenge and urgent solutions will be required. During the six day conference, IUCN and partners will look into and discuss possible answers and solutions to the growing water, energy and food security challenge. The yearly conference attracts over 2,000 participants, from government, private sector and civil society, who will put forward policy recommendations and concrete actions.

It is predicted that in less than two decades, globally 40% less freshwater resources will be available to ensure water, energy, and food security. Transformation is necessary and IUCN joins in the debate on new opportunities and changes of our current approaches to managing water. The Nexus perspective, a paradigm aimed at increasing the understanding of the interdependencies between water, energy, and food security, has provided an opportunity for IUCN to promote the role of natural infrastructure as a critical pillar in this three-tier approach.

Key Issues:
• Valuing Natural Infrastructure. “Understanding that nature can serve as infrastructure, by storing, moving, cleaning and buffering flows of water, making drought and flood less severe, and food and energy production more reliable, opens the way to including the management and restoration of ecosystems in planning and investment for the water-food-energy nexus”, says Mark Smith, Director, IUCN Global Water Programme.

• Healthy Ecosystems “Looking at the fact that 70% of water withdrawals worldwide are used for food production resources, it is obvious that good water management plays an important role in global food supply. Added to that, climate change impacts and population growth pose a serious threat to global water supplies. Keeping ecosystems such as watersheds, mangroves, and floodplains well-functioning and healthy should be top priorities on every policy-makers’ agenda”, says Ganesh Pangare, Head IUCN Asia Water Programme.

• Water Governance and Dialogue In addition to the focus on food security this year, Stockholm Water Week will also highlight key events related to the 2013 UN Year on Water Cooperation. “With more than 270 transboundary rivers and lakes worldwide, water cooperation and good governance at international, national and local levels, is key to avoid conflict over water resources. IUCN’s BRIDGE project is currently active in three continents, building river governance and dialogue, leading to new and improved ways of water cooperation”, says Alejandro Iza, Director IUCN Environmental Law Centre.

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