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BK Blog Post
Posted by James Garrison.
James Garrison is the President of State of the World Forum, a non-profit institution with a global network of leaders dedicated to developing a more sustainable global civilization.
A kilogram of meat requires up to 20,000 litres of water to produce (compared with about 1,200 litres to produce a kilo of grain). Global demand for meat is forecast to increase 50% by 2025.
A Nexus of Water Challenges
This water-for-food vs water-for-energy dilemma the United States faces is similar to the “nexus” challenge which many fast-growing economies will have to tackle soon: how to simultaneously manage water for food, energy, people and the environment?
For example, as much of Asia becomes more urbanized and industrialized,more water will be directed towards energy and away from agriculture. Modelling undertaken for the World Economic Forum suggests that a 76% increase in water demand for energy and industry will be required across Asia by 2030 compared with today. This will occur at exactly the same time as these countries will need to almost double their food production. Against a baseline of 70% of water already being used for agriculture, how can these competing challenges be squared?
In addition, changing climatic conditions will accelerate freshwater security challenges. Unlike options in energy, there are no substitutes or alternatives to water. We will simply have to adapt. This is not only a problem for the poorest nations. Water security will affect people in Australia, the Balkans, California, China, India, Jordan, Greece, Mexico, North Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Africa and Turkey among others. In fact dryland areas represent more than 40% of the world’s surface area, covering over 100 countries.