Water

2011, State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture-Summary 4 June 2012 Land and water resources and the way they are used are central to the challenge of improving food security across the world. Demographic pressures, climate change, and the increased competition for land and water are likely to increase vulnerability to food insecurity, particularly in Africa and Asia. The challenge of providing sufficient food for everyone worldwide has never been greater. [more]
Climate Change, water and food security 4 June 2012 The impacts of climate change on the global hydrological cycle are expected to vary the patterns of demand and supply of water for agriculture the dominant user of freshwater. The extent and productivity of both irrigated and rainfed agriculture can be expected to change. As a result, the livelihoods of rural communities and the food security of a predominantly urban population are at risk from water-related impacts linked primarily to climate variability. The rural poor, who are the most vulnerable, are likely to be disproportionately affected. Adaptation measures that build upon improved land and water management practices will be fundamental in boosting overall resilience to climate change. And this is not just to maintain food security: the continued integrity of land and water systems is essential for all economic uses of water. This report summarizes current knowledge of the anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability for agriculture and examines the implications for local and national food security. It analyses expected impact of climate change on a set of major agricultural systems at risk and makes the case for immediate implementation of no-regrets strategies which have both positive development outcomes and make agricultural systems resilient. It is hoped that policy makers and planners can use this report to frame their adaptation responses when considering both the water variable in agriculture and the competing demands from other users. [more]
Water at FAO 4 June 2012 During the second half of the 20th century, agriculture responded to a twofold increase in the world’s population by more than doubling food production, and this in an environment of decreasing commodity prices. During the same period, the group of developing countries increased per capita food consumption by 30 percent and nutritional situations improved accordingly. In addition, agriculture continued producing non-food crops, including cotton, rubber, beverage crops and industrial oils. However, while feeding the world and producing a diverse range of commodities in an increasingly productive way, agriculture also confirmed its position as the largest user of water on the globe. Irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater appropriated for human use. [more]
The Water Report No. 35 “Wealth of Waste: the economics of wastewater use in agriculture” 4 June 2012 The use of reclaimed water in agriculture is an option that is increasingly being investigated and taken up in regions with water scarcity, growing urban populations and growing demand for irrigation water. This report presents an economic framework for the assessment of the use of reclaimed water in agriculture, as part of a comprehensive planning process in water resource allocation strategies to provide for a more economically efficient and sustainable water utilization. Many regions of the world are experiencing growing water stress. This arises from a relentless growth of demand for water in the face of static, or diminishing, supply and periodic droughts due to climatic factors. Water stress is also caused by pollution from increasing amounts of wastewater from expanding cities, much of it only partially treated, and from the contamination of aquifers from various sources. Such water pollution makes scarcity worse by reducing the amount of freshwater that is safe to use. Water scarcity in all its aspects has serious economic, social and even political costs. At times of serious scarcity, national authorities are inclined to divert water from farmers to cities since water has a higher economic value in urban and industrial use than for most agricultural purposes. In these circumstances, the use of reclaimed water in agriculture enables freshwater to be exchanged for more economically and socially valuable purposes, whilst providing farmers with reliable and nutrient-rich water. This exchange also has potential environmental benefits, reducing the pollution of wastewater downstream and allowing the assimilation of its nutrients into plants. Recycling water can potentially offer a “triple dividendâ€Â - to urban users, farmers and the environment. Reclaimed water use can help to mitigate the damaging effects of local water scarcity. [more]
Water Report 33 “Scoping agriculture-wetland interactions: Towards a sustainable multi-response strategy 4 June 2012 Agriculture–wetland interactions (AWIs) are increasingly important as rising demand for food and fuel production exacerbates pressures on wetlands. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified agriculture as the main cause of wetland degradation and loss. Using a drivers, pressures, state changes,impacts and responses (DPSIR) framework to analyse 90 cases drawn from all parts of the world and all wetland types, this report assesses the character of AWIs and their impacts in socio-economic and ecosystem services terms. Identifying the drivers and pressures that cause “overdependence” on specific and limited provisioning services in wetlands, it shows how these skew ecosystem services and lead to socio-economic and livelihood trade-offs that fuel economic drivers and pressures on the system. It argues that sustainable AWIs require multiple-response strategies that are targeted at: diversified agricultural services and livelihoods; the multitude of ecosystem services, and; policy, management and technical measures. The report illustrates how the framework can aid in their formulation by presenting its detailed application in five diverse cases. [more]
Forests and water 4 June 2012 The availability and quality of clean water in many regions of the world is more and more threatened by overuse, misuse and pollution. In this context, the relationship between forests and water must be accorded high priority. Forested catchments supply a high proportion of the water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs in both upstream and downstream areas. A key challenge faced by land, forest and water managers is to maximize the benefits that forests provide without detriment to water resources and ecosystem function. There is an urgent need for a better understanding of the interface of forests and trees with water and for embedding this knowledge in policies. This study, initiated in the context of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, highlights the need for holistic management of complex watershed ecosystems taking into account interactions among water, forest and other land uses as well as socio-economic factors. It explains the role of forests in the hydrological cycle, with a particular focus on critical, “red flag” forest situations such as mountainous or steep terrain, river and coastal areas and swamp ecosystems, as well as the special case of mountainous small islands. It addresses the protection of municipal water supplies and emerging systems of payment for watershed services. This state-of-knowledge publication will be of interest to a broad range of technical experts, scientists and decision-makers. [more]
Towards a new understanding of forests and water 4 June 2012 The availability and quality of water in many regions of the world are more and more threatened by overuse, misuse and pollution, and it is increasingly recognized that both are strongly influenced by forests. Moreover, climate change is altering forest’s role in regulating water flows and influencing the availability of water resources (Bergkamp, Orlando and Burton, 2003). Therefore, the relationship between forests and water is a critical issue that must be accorded high priority. [more]

last updated:  Tuesday, June 5, 2012