Table of Contents

Handbook on Water Security

Handbook on Water Security

Edited by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Anik Bhaduri and Joyeeta Gupta

Water security has received increasing attention in the scientific and policy community in recent years. This Handbook covers the wide range of perspectives required to understand water security as a concept guiding water governance and management at different levels and in different regions. It reflects on past, present and future challenges to water security and strategies on how to overcome them. An invaluable resource for scientific scholars, it will also appeal policymakers and practitioners interested in a deeper understanding of this important concept.

Chapter 11: Role of water security for agricultural and economic development – concepts and global scenarios

Claudia Ringler, Tingju Zhu, Sebastian Gruber, Ronan Treguer, Laurent Auguste and Lee Addams

Subjects: environment, environmental management, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


We define water security as current and future access to sufficient water resources for productive uses and economic growth. At withdrawal levels in excess of 40% of available water resources, countries or river basins are considered water scarce, and thus water insecure. We find that in 2010, 36% of the world’s population, 39% of global grain production, and 22% of global GDP are at risk due to water stress. Moreover, under Business-as-usual (BAU), that is, if current policy and investments continue, more than half, or 52% of the global population, 49% of total cereal production, and 45% of GDP will be at risk due to water stress by 2050 with withdrawal levels above 40% of renewable resources. Water and food security are closely interlinked: increased water security also improves global food security and vice versa. As irrigation is, and will remain, the largest single user of freshwater withdrawals, large gains in water security can be made from small water savings in irrigated agriculture. However, productivity improvement in domestic and industrial sectors can also make important contributions in reducing the share of population and GDP at risk of water scarcity and should continue to be pursued.

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