Published: January 20, 2017
Growing water scarcity is now one of the leading challenges for sustainable development, and that challenge is poised to intensify as the world’s population continues to swell and climate change intensifies, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned today.
Competition for water will intensify as humanity’s numbers exceed 9 billion people around 2050 — already, millions of family farmers in developing countries suffer from lack of access to freshwater, while conflicts over water resources already surpass those tied to land disputes in some regions, he noted in remarks made at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (19-21 January) in Berlin.
Additionally, climate change is already altering hydrological regimes everywhere, Graziano da Silva said, citing estimates that around one billion people in dry regions may face increasing water scarcity in the near future. These are regions with a high concentration of extreme poverty and hunger.
Agriculture is both a major cause and casualty of water scarcity. Farming accounts for around 70 percent of fresh water withdrawals in the world today, and also contributes to water pollution due to pesticides and chemicals.