Our world and our societies are water‐hungry. The fulfillment of basic human needs, the environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all dependent on water. With the world population expected to grow from a little over 7 billion today to 8 billion by 2025, water withdrawals are expected to increase by 50 percent in developing countries and by 18 percent in developed countries.
“Water is central to the well‐being of people and the planet," Secretary‐General Ban Ki‐moon said in his video message for the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013. "We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource."
Water is fundamentally important for food and agriculture, and is the basic ingredient of life: one can survive for eight to ten days without food but without water, for not more than two days. Despite the fact that our body is made up of 2/3 of water, the food we eat consumes even more water than we do. Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Although the earth has 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water, less than 1 percent is accessible for human consumption, and 70 percent of that is used for agricultural purposes. Couple that with recent droughts in certain parts of the world, most notably in the African Sahel, and the urgency for action to safeguard water resources is clear.
“Freshwater resources are essential for agriculture to sustain the world population with adequate and nutritious food. However, all too often this precious and frequently limited resource is not equally shared between all those who need it, but is rather distributed according to who can afford to pay the most,” said Paul Juan, a food security activist. Water is an essential part of our daily lives in many more ways than we realize – in fact every product we use every day has used water in its production, transport and packaging before it reaches you.