The wasteful way in which water is used for crop irrigation is a threat to world food security, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) warned.
“If we do not reform, 50% of global grain production will be at risk within a generation,” it said in a report released to coincide with the World Water Forum (WWF), underway in Marseille, France.
Such a loss of food production would lead to “massive political instability and conflict”.
The GEF is the world’s biggest funder of environmental projects in developing countries, uniting various international agencies, development banks and more than 180 member governments.
According to the report, titled “Contributing to Global Security”, rapid global change is placing increasing stress on the world’s freshwater
“Global economic policies, together with an increasing population, and frequent droughts and floods caused by the warming of our planet, are all making the situation even worse.”
About a billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, a similar number are undernourished, and 2.6 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.
“If we continue with a business-as-usual approach, in less than 20 years we will have 40% less freshwater than we need to ensure basic water, food and energy security for our communities,” GEF said in the report.
Countries could no longer stick their heads in the sand and simply hope that next year would bring timely rains, rather than droughts or floods.
“We know that it is possible to achieve long-term water, food and energy security on our planet, but urgent action is needed now.”
The WWF ends in Marseille on Friday. The theme for the forum’s sixth triennial meeting is “Time for Solutions”.