13 March 2012

World water supply threatened

Increasing demand and climate change are threatening global water supplies

By Irinia Bokova | United Nations in Disaster News Network | March 12, 2012

A combination of increasing demand and ongoing climate change are significantly threatening global water supplies, a United Nations report says.

A 70 percent increase in demand for food by the year 2050 will bring a 19 percent increase in water used for agriculture, it said, noting 70 percent of global freshwater supplies are already being used for agricultural purposes.

"Freshwater is not being used sustainably, according to needs and demands," Irinia Bokova, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said in the report's foreword. "Accurate information remains disparate, and management is fragmented. In this context, the future is increasingly uncertain and risks are set to deepen."

In response to growing demand, countries have tapped into underground water sources, with water extraction tripling over the past 50 years, a U.N. release said Monday.

However, in some underground basins water cannot be replenished and is now at critically low levels, it said.

"Unless water becomes a more central consideration in development planning, billions of people, mostly in developing countries, could face reduced livelihoods and life chances," a UNESCO release said. "Better governance of water resources is required, including investments in infrastructure from both private and public sectors."

The U.N. World Water Development Report is being presented at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France, this week.

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