World Water Day 2012 - Less water, less food
Sufficient good-quality water is key to the health and well-being of humans and ecosystems and an essential ingredient for socio-economic development. It is estimated that fresh water will become an increasingly scarce resource in the coming years.
“Lack of access to clean drinking water exacerbates the burdens carried by the poor and the undernourished, and it increases mortality rates [...] We must join together to secure clean water and food for every citizen of the world, now and in the future,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova in her message for World Water Day, 22 March.
The theme for World Water Day 2012 is “water and food security”. UNESCO’s main contributions to the Day this year are the 4th UN World Water Development Report 2012 (WWDR), and the International Traveling Painting Exhibition, titled “Water”.
With 7 billion inhabitants on the planet, and another 2 billion expected by 2050, the task of feeding everyone requires global initiatives. Data from the WWDR shows that the demand for food will increase by approximately 70%, leading to an increase of at least 19% in the water required for agriculture, which already accounts for 70% of freshwater use.
Improving water resource management, increasing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and promoting hygiene can improve the quality of life of billions of individuals, as well as reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and cut the incidence of waterborne diseases.
With programs ranging from the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (IHE), the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the UNESCO’s H2Ooooh! Initiative, UNESCO is leading the effort to employ new strategies for water conservation at local, regional and national levels. In addition, this year UNESCO will take part in the UN conference on sustainable development (Rio +20) to be held in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil, (20-22 June), which aims to address the problem of unsustainable use of fresh water and provide a new momentum to better manage the world’s freshwater resources.