Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for around 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, even up to 90 percent in some fast-growing economies.
In 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress. Most population growth will occur in developing countries, mainly in regions that are already experiencing water stress and in areas with limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities.
Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development. Access to modern energy is essential for the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare and for the provision of reliable and efficient lighting, heating, cooking, mechanical power, transport and telecommunications services. It is an alarming fact that today billions of people lack access to the most basic energy services: as World Energy Outlook 2012 shows 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which causes harmful indoor air pollution. These people are mainly in either developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and in rural areas.
A review of the last year reveals new focus, new commitments and new actions towards a goal of achieving universal modern energy access by 2030. The United Nations designation of 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, coupled with the decision by the UN Secretary‑General to include modern energy access within his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, have been important in generating new commitments this goal.
But much more is required. In the absence of further action, WEO-2012 projects that nearly one billion people will be without electricity and 2.6 billion people will still be without clean cooking facilities in 2030. It finds that nearly $1 trillion in cumulative investment – around $49 billion per year – is needed to achieve universal energy access by 2030. This is more that five-times the level of investment observed in 2009. Concerns that achieving modern energy access for all would unduly magnify the challenges of energy security or climate change are unfounded, as it would only increase global energy demand by 1% in 2030 and CO2 emissions by 0.6%.
Producing 1 kg of grain requires approximately 1,500 litres of water while 1 kg of beef requires 15,000 litres. Diets are shifting from predominantly starch-based food to meat and dairy, which requires more water.
The main challenge facing the agricultural sector is not as much growing 70% more food in 40 years, but making 70% more food available on the plate.
There are about 7 billion people in the world. With an estimated 868 million hungry people, 12 percent, or 1 in 8 people are hungry. Over the period to 2050 the world’s water will have to support the agricultural systems that will feed and create livelihoods for an additional 2.7 billion people.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts yields from rain-dependent agriculture could be down by 50 percent by 2020.
Due to climate change, Himalayan snow and ice, which provide vast amounts of water for agriculture in Asia, are expected to decline by 20 percent by 2030.