Growing population needs twenty more ‘Niles’
September 11th 2012
The world needs to find the equivalent of the flow of 20 Nile rivers by 2025 to grow enough food to feed a rising population and help avoid conflicts over water scarcity, a group of former leaders said on Monday [11 September]. Factors such as climate change would strain freshwater supplies and nations including China and India were likely to face shortages within two decades, they said, calling on the UN Security Council to get more involved. ‘The future political impact of water scarcity may be devastating,’ former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said of a study issued by a group of 40 former leaders he co-chairs including former US President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela. ‘It will lead to some conflicts,’ Chretien told reporters on a telephone conference call, highlighting tensions such as in the Middle East over the Jordan River.
The study, by the InterAction Council of former leaders, said the UN Security Council should make water the top concern. Until now, the Security Council has treated water as a factor in other crises, such as Sudan or the impact of global warming. It said that about 3,800 cubic km (910 cubic miles) of fresh water was taken from rivers and lakes every year. ‘With about 1 billion more mouths to feed worldwide by 2025, global agriculture alone will require another 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of water per year,’ it said. The world population now is just over 7 billion. The increase was ‘equal to the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers’, according to the report, also backed by the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNWEH) and Canada’s Gordon Foundation.
It said the greatest growth in demand for water would be in China, the United States and India due to population growth, increasing irrigation and economic growth. ‘By 2030, demand for water in India and China, the most populous nations on Earth, will exceed their current supplies,’ the report said. Global warming, blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would aggravate the problems. ‘We say in the UN system that climate change is all about water,’ said Zafar Adeel, director of UNWEH. Severe weather events – such as droughts, floods, mudslides or downpours – were becoming more frequent.
Read the full article: Reuters
More about water