International Policy and Regulatory Frameworks
Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse and Nicole Weisfelt
Chapter 7: Water and food security
Water and food security are inextricably linked. This is not simply because we need a lot of water to grow food (often estimated at approximately 1 litre of water per kilocalorie of food produced), but also because the thirst of agriculture for water has significant and often serious consequences for other water users and the environment. We often forget that human life is dependent upon a range of ecosystem services, such as a continued supply of fresh water, insects that pollinate, biologically healthy soils in which to grow our food and fibre crops, as well as biodiverse aquatic habitats and landscape that promote sustainable fisheries, forests and rangelands. Agriculture, as the largest consumer of global fresh water, can play a major role in facilitating these ecosystem services when it is well governed and managed, and harmonized with the environment. However, far too often, as has been seen in countless numbers of ‘closed’ basins (basins in which all the water has been consumed by users and which as a consequence no longer flow at their mouths), poor governance and management can lead to the major environmental degradation of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
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