This year’s World Food Day is dedicated to honoring one of the most valuable resources on our planet: water. It is crucial for sustaining life on Earth, covering a majority of the Earth’s surface and making up over half of our bodies. Water plays a vital role in providing food, supporting livelihoods, and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we face the complicated task of protecting our freshwater resources and aquatic food systems from pollution and the effects of climate change, we must also strive for equal access to water for all individuals.
70% of our freshwater is used for agriculture
Approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater is allocated to agricultural practices, making it necessary to alter our methods of food production.fi
The most critical responsibility is managing the supply of water, crops, and other farming goods. Neglecting this duty would have severe repercussions. The availability of fresh water is particularly important.fi
It’s important to appreciate the night and not take it for granted.
In the past 20 years, the amount of freshwater available to each person on Earth has decreased by about 20%. However, in certain areas, this decrease is even more severe, reaching up to 30%.
If we do not take immediate action, our global water consumption is projected to rise by over 1/3 by 2050 due to the increasing population of our planet. This means that as a whole, we are at risk of reaching a critical point with no way to turn back.
The rapid increase in population, urbanization, industrialization, economic progress, and the environmental crisis have all negatively impacted our water supply. When coupled with contamination, excessive usage, and inadequate coordination, these factors create a complicated set of overlapping issues.
flood risks, and rising sea levels are some of the consequences of climate change.
Climate change has resulted in more frequent extreme weather events, increased risks of drought and floods, and rising sea levels.fl
Floods are causing strain on our natural systems, resulting in serious impacts on the world’s food supply. Those most at risk are small-scale farmers, specifically those who are impoverished, female, young, indigenous, migrants, or refugees.
Getting ready for a difficult task
PREPARING FOR A DIFFICULT CHALLENGE
The key to managing these interconnected obstacles is ensuring adequate protection.fi
Providing a sufficient water supply for agriculture is crucial, but it can be challenging to balance this with the water needs of other economic activities, particularly as urbanization continues to increase.
Effective governance is vital in achieving fair and long-lasting distribution of water resources. This requires a collaborative and inclusive approach involving all stakeholders. Implementing measures such as water governance and tenure, fair pricing strategies, regulations, and incentives are necessary to promote positive transformation and guarantee equal access to clean and safe water resources.
Our goal is to establish a comprehensive approach to managing water resources by effectively developing and overseeing water, land, and associated resources. This will ensure the greatest benefit for human welfare while also maintaining the long-term health of essential ecosystems. To achieve this, it is necessary to have coordinated plans at both national and regional levels.
Effective water management is crucial, encompassing modern methods of irrigation and storage, as well as utilizing scientific approaches to combat water scarcity and control flooding. This will lead to the development of a society that is both water-conserving and resilient, achieved through efficient management of the water, food, and energy interdependence.
ACTION ON THE GROUND
We have the ability and are actively striving to achieve these goals.
In the Sahel region, the FAO is offering farmers the chance to use machinery to enhance their water systems, while also aiding rural women and their families in obtaining water resources.
Globally, irrigated land produces 40% of food from 20% of arable land — yet it remains an untapped potential.
FAO is creating a method for mapping global irrigation needs and potential in order to fulfill this potential. We are eager to collaborate with countries in its implementation.
Effective financing methods and investments, on a significant and large level, play a crucial role in constructing and upholding infrastructure with high capital requirements.
Focusing on resilience-based approaches is crucial. Giving priority to green and blue infrastructure to support agriculture and…fi
Sheries have the ability to improve water quality, preserve biodiversity, and offer additional advantages to agrifood systems and rural areas.
FAO is currently testing the use of multifunctional paddy fields for fish and shrimp farming, as well as rice production, in countries such as Sri Lanka and Zambia.
floods and providing wildlife habitats.
This valuable infrastructure provides advantages through replenishing underground water, managing floods, and creating habitats for wildlife.fl
Goods are physical products that are produced and services are actions or tasks that are performed. Ecosystem services refer to the benefits that humans receive from functioning ecosystems.
All performers must be present.
We have the ability and obligation to work together with all the different participants, each making their unique but interconnected efforts.
Governments should create policies that are informed by scientific evidence and utilize data and innovation. These policies should also involve coordination between different sectors in order to effectively plan and manage water resources. It is crucial to recognize the interconnectedness of water, energy, and food, and to balance competing interests in a way that does not compromise public health.ecosystems.
Our farmers need to become agents of water management and be equipped with the right tools to perform that function sustainably. Farmers, forest-dependent people, livestock producers and those working in the blue economy of fisheries and aquaculture already manage water on a daily basis. Supporting and encouraging them to take leadership in fi
Finding and executing water solutions is a clear and intelligent choice.
Companies must take on the role of water caretakers by actively committing to enhancing water efficiency and decreasing contamination throughout their supply chains. This not only benefits the environment and communities, but also has positive impacts on businesses. Prioritizing water management can enhance a company’s reputation, increase profits, and mitigate potential risks from issues such as water scarcity, floods, and pollution that may affect their operations in the future.
deforestation are all ways we can contribute to conservation
Once more, I want to emphasize the importance of not taking water for granted. By making conscious choices about our purchases, reducing water wastage, and protecting against deforestation, we can all play a role in conserving this vital resource. flooding disaster and pollution are easy ways for everybody to contribute to positive action for a future of prosperity for people and the planet. They are central to achieving what we at FAO refer to as the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life — to ensure no one is left behind.
Dr. Qu Dongyu serves as the director-general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.