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World Water Day Focuses on Food Security

22 March 2012: The 2012 edition of World Water Day, which is held every year on 22 March, focused on the theme "water and food security." The official UN-Water celebrations were coordinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who noted that a 50% reduction in food waste would save 1350 km3 of water per year.

In a statement delivered to mark the Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments to “connect the dots between water security and food and nutrition security in the context of a green economy” at the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

A number of international organizations used World Water Day as a platform to call for action on freshwater issues. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) highlighted that: agriculture uses 70% of global freshwater resources; 66% of the world's population will face conditions of water-stress by 2025; and that due to increasing population and climate change, water demand will rise by 55%. IFAD called for addressing the water issues faced by rural communities more comprehensively, through integrated water and land management.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted a project in Haiti to improve flood monitoring and reduce disaster risk. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) stressed the need for less-wasteful water use, underscoring that climate change is predicted to increase water stress in arid and semi-arid regions, and impact the world's poor and vulnerable.

The UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called attention to the newly released World Water Development Report (WWDR), which predicts a 70% increase in food demand and a corresponding 19% increase in the water required for agriculture.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) highlighted the importance of sustainable land management, emphasizing that preventing land degradation increases water supply and improves water quality. The World Bank noted the role of large-scale water infrastructure for water storage, and highlighted the cross-sectoral relationships between water and energy, such as the use of water to grow biofuel feedstocks and hydropower. [World Water Day 2012 Website] [World Bank Press Release] [UNCCD Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [UNESCO Press Release] [UN/ISDR Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [IFAD Press Release]