World Water Forum

September 18, 2005 14:39 ET

Water Management Key to Survival in Face of Potential Food Production Crisis; Major Water Concerns of Food Security and Environmental Sustainability to Be Examined at World Water Forum

BEIJING--(CCNMatthews - Sep 18, 2005) -

Water management is fundamental to averting a potential crisis in global food production, according to world experts who met in Beijing for an important international forum concluding Sunday. The meeting of the International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage (ICID) highlighted the urgency of promoting greater attention and discussion of water management impacts on food security and environmental sustainability, during a weeklong session of ICID's 19th International Congress and 56th International Executive Meeting. In light of the urgency of continuing dialogue on these issues ICID also reinforced its commitment to participating in the 4th World Water Forum (WWF) to be held in Mexico City next year in March.

"Participation in the 4th World Water Forum, is an important step in seeking solutions for development with due care for the environment. These are among the most urgent issues facing the international community today. The world population is still growing rapidly and it is important that we take appropriate measures now to ensure the survival of various communities throughout the world," M. GopalaKrishnan, Secretary General of the ICID.

"By 2025, 2.7 Billion people, 1/3 of the world's population will be facing a severe water shortage, with the majority of water scarcity occurring in the southern hemisphere, the upcoming World Water Forum will be an important opportunity to share with a variety of stakeholders the current challenges and the 'local actions' that are an important part of exploring innovative solutions to these concerns," said Dato Ir. Hj. Keizrul bin Abdullah, President of ICID.

Discussions in Beijing focused on topics such as meeting the food needs of over eight hundred million people by 2025 estimated to be underfed. Despite an apparent sufficiency in the world food production, inequity and the problem of malnutrition in Least Developed Countries persists with about 20% of the world's poor people starving or underfed.

"Global food production will have to be doubled to achieve satisfactory food security for all. We are at a crossroads, food shortages due to the lack of proper management of water resources pose a major challenge, 5 million children die annually from hunger and in economic terms, developing countries lose billions of dollars in lost productivity. At the global level the ability to produce food is not the problem, the challenge is the ability to get the food to those in need," said Dato Ir. Hj. Keizrul bin Abdullah, President of ICID.

The ICID meeting brought together experts from all over the world to focus on one of the most important uses and applications of water. The large pressures faced due to population growth, limited areas of arable and useable land and the demands of changing lifestyles and strain on resources, makes the applications of land and efficiency of water use crucial concerns for the future.

"Irrigation in the world today accounts for 70% of all fresh water withdrawals, which are used to irrigate 17% of all cropped land yielding 40% of the overall agricultural outputs worldwide. When we look to increase future food production, the answer lies in expansion of irrigated and drained lands where potential exists, and importantly, in existing irrigated and drained areas and an increase in water use efficiency and land productivity," said Aly Shady, President Honoraire of the International Commission on Drainage and Irrigation and President of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA).

"The 4th World Water Forum is an important event to build a bridge and platform for discussion on many of the issues that affect people and governments all over the world," said Madame Meng Zhimin, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation Science and Technology, Ministry of Water Resources, PRC.

The overarching theme of the World Water Forum is Local Actions for a Global Challenge. A local action is defined as any activity or group of activities focused on solving a problem related to the management of water resources, the benefits of which are tangible at the local level. These could be structural or non-structural actions that have an impact on local administration of water. The main aim of a local action is to seek options for the sustainable development of a community or a region, without compromising the preservation of the local ecosystem.

"By sharing the experience from these local actions and recognizing the necessity of adapting unique approaches from across the globe to meet local community needs we are able to meet the challenges of water resource management and create projects that take into account multiple stakeholder and environmental concerns, providing a more integrated approach," said Dr. Luis Rendon, Chairman of the Mexican National Committee for the ICID.

Dr Rendon presented Mexican experiences and knowledge to the ICID conference as part of an international exchange of ideas and understanding.

About the 4th World Water Forum

The World Water Forum is an initiative of the World Water Council aiming at raising awareness on global water issues. The First Forum was held in Morocco (1997), the Second in The Hague (2000) and the Third in Japan (2003), the 4th World Water Forum will be held in Mexico City in March 2006, under the overarching theme of "Local Actions for a Global Challenge" with focus on best practices and knowledge sharing.

The Fora has already been established as an open, multi-stakeholder participatory process, which build on the knowledge, experience and input of the global water community and seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy-making at a global level, thus ensuring better living and respect for the principles of sustainable development to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The World Water Fora are built on the knowledge and experience of different types of organizations active in the global water policy. It is a venture founded on the principles of collaboration, partnerships and innovation.

About ICID

The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) was established on 24 June 1950 as a Scientific, Technical and Voluntary Not-for-profit Non-Governmental International Organization (NGO) with headquarters in New Delhi, India. The Commission is dedicated to enhancing the worldwide supply of food and fiber for all people by improving water and land management and the productivity of irrigated and drained lands through appropriate management of water, environment and application of irrigation, drainage and flood management techniques.

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