It is an opportunity to learn more about water and its centrality in our lives and for the environment, and promote sustainable behaviours and actions towards this precious resource.
Each year focuses on a different theme. In 2012, it addresses “Water and Food Security”, and it is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on behalf of UN-Water.
Feeding all mankind within the boundaries of our natural resources, especially water, is indeed a major challenge. There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and this number is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. This, combined with shifting diets, means that 70% more food will be needed by then, up to 100% in developing countries.
All that we eat needs water to grow. However, our water resources are finite and already under heavy pressure.
A person needs to drink 2 to 4 liters of water everyday, but it takes 2 000 to 5 000 litres of water to produce one person’s daily food. For example, according to the UN it takes 1 500 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat and 15 000 – ten times more! – to produce 1 kilogram of beef.
70% of water withdrawals at global level are used for irrigation. Irrigated agriculture represents 20% of the total cultivated land but contributes 40% of the total food produced worldwide.
Changing diets and food preferences, in particular due to urbanization and income increase, are having a significant impact on our water resources, especially the global augmentation of meat consumption, which is expected to rise from 37 kilograms of meat per person per year in 1999/2001 to 52 kilograms in 2050. Livestock requires feed crops to grow that in turn require water. Slaughtering and the processing of meat also require large quantities of water. This makes the virtual water content of meat particularly important.
Roughly 30 percent of the food produced worldwide – about 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted every year. In developed countries and particularly in cities, food is wasted by the consumer who may not be aware of, or sensitive to, the resources needed to produce it.
A change in consumers’ attitude is necessary. Our dietary choices and our attitude do matter.
We can all do something.
What are you doing on 22 March for World Water Day?
Share Your Story – for love of water.
The UN-Water World Water Day Team
Every day is World Water Day!