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Global Water Outlook to 2025: Averting an Impending Crisis

Author: Mark W. Rosegrant, Ximing Cai, and Sarah A.Cline
Organisation: International Food Policy Research Institute
Publish Date: September 2002
Country: Global
Sector: Environment
Method: Forecasting
Theme: Water
Type: Report
Language: English

For some time, experts have argued about the Earth’s capacity to support ever larger human populations. Can the Earth produce enough food to feed 8 billion people? 10 billion? It now appears that one of the main factors limiting future food production will be water. This scarce resource is facing heavy and unsustainable demand from users of all kinds, and farmers increasingly have to compete for water with urban residents and industries. Environmental uses of water, which may be key to ensuring the sustainability of the Earth’s water supply in the long run, often get short shrift.

Based on a global model of supply and demand for food and water, this report shows that if current water policies continue, farmers will indeed find it difficult to meet the world’s food needs. Hardest hit will be the world’s poorest people. The results from the model used in this report also show the consequences of changing the course of water policy. Further inattention to water-related investments and policies will produce a severe water crisis, which will lead in turn to a food crisis. A commitment to sustainable use of water, through appropriate policies and investments, however, will lead to a more water- and food-secure world. Water may be a scarce resource, but humans have developed many ways of using it more efficiently—that is, getting more from each unit of water. But water-saving policies, practices, and technologies are of no help if they are not used. Inappropriate incentives and institutions often hinder effective use of water. This report spells out the future results of our current choices.
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