Global Water and Food Security: Emerging Issues
Feeding the world’s population is an ongoing challenge that incorporates issues such as economic growth and equity, sustainable natural resource management, agricultural research and technology innovation, and effective institutions and governance. Many emerging factors will affect our ability to address this challenge into the future, as we respond to population growth, resource degradation and scarcity, climate change and so on. To a large extent, agricultural production growth will depend on irrigation, but the future of irrigation water supplies is increasingly constrained by competition for water from other sectors. Declining water quality, falling groundwater tables, and growing environmental demands for water are further constraints, and globalisation and trade liberalisation will continue to introduce new variables. This paper focuses on three emerging factors that will strongly affect water management and agricultural production. We describe them as the ‘new ABCs’ of future water and food security: aquaculture, biotechnology and climate. In particular, these factors will have a major effect on agricultural water use around the world. Successfully meeting both new and existing water and food security challenges necessitates fundamental changes in water management, driven by sound government policy. Ultimately, this requires appropriate financial investments, research, water-management reform and effective economic incentives.
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