Population, Changing Diet and Global Freshwater Supply Challenges

 

UN-Water pic

UN-Water
Image: unwater.org

Sydney, Australia-based Tim Hornibrook has extensive experience in large-scale agricultural ventures. As water is an invaluable component of agriculture, Tim Hornibrook pays special attention to the current state of global freshwater supplies.

UN-Water, the inter-agency coordination mechanism of the United Nation for all freshwater concerns, reports that while globally there is enough water for our future water requirements, there are areas where billions of people have little or intermittent access to water. Water goes hand-in-hand with food security as 70 percent of all water utilized by the industrial, municipal, and agricultural sectors in the world is used for agriculture.

The world’s population is projected to increase from the 7.4 billion of today to 9.1 billion in 2050. As a consequence, food demand will also increase proportionally. Meanwhile, there is an ongoing shift in diets brought about by economic growth and increasing individual prosperity. More people are shifting from mainly starch-based diets to diets including more dairy products and meat.

Around 3,500 liters of water is needed to produce 1 kilo of rice, while around 15,000 liters of water is needed to produce 1 kilo of meat, hence this dietary shift is increasing demands on agricultural water sources. Over the past 30 years this shift in diet has had a huge impact on water usage and it will continue to do so.

This situation requires a new approach to analyzing water usage, and must including looking at the value chain and equating harvest loss, post-harvest loss, and food wastage as water loss or wastage.