Gland, Switzerland: One of the world’s key challenges in an increasingly challenging future will be balancing the water, food and energy equation, WWF predicted at the conclusion of this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm.
“We are already exceeding the limits of the planet in many ways, but it is the availability of fresh water that will have the biggest impact on the food security and energy security of billions,” said Dr Li Lifeng, director of WWF’s global freshwater programme.
WWF was endorsing the meeting’s Stockholm Statement, this year urging nations at the forthcoming Rio +20 global summit on sustainable development to commit to “universal provisioning of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and modern energy services by the year 2030”.
The Stockholm Statement also seeks 20 per cent by 2020 targets that include increases in crop and energy water efficiency and water recycling, and reductions in water pollution.
The Statement? also calls for special attention to water, sanitation and energy needs of “the bottom billion”, noting that access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation services have now been defined as human rights.
“We all too often overlook the increasing water intensity of energy production, and the potential impacts on food production,” said Dr Lifeng. “As we eat our way up the food chain, the water intensity of many foods is also increasing in the face of depleting groundwater reserves and climate change impacts.
Solving the water, energy and food equation for the world has to be a global priority.”
Suggesting that the world might need to look at coherent overall management of water, food and energy, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) Director Anders Bertell said “There are tremendous opportunities to save water and stimulate development by cutting water losses in energy generation, by generating energy from water reuse and by reducing the losses and waste of food from the field on its way to the consumer”.