Population growth, and now warming, are adding to pressures
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 12:24 p.m. CT March 22, 2007
ROME - With climate change now adding to the pressures, sharing rather than warring over the world's resources of fresh water represents the "challenge of the 21st century," the United Nations said Thursday as it marked World Water Day.
"The bulk of that challenge lies in finding more effective ways to conserve, use and protect the world’s water resources," the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement.
Already 1.1 billion people lack access to adequate clean water and, with the world's population set to grow from the current 6.5 billion to 8 billion by 2030, 1.8 billion people will face water scarcity by then, the Rome-based agency estimated.
That growing population also means that "14 percent more freshwater will need to be withdrawn for agricultural purposes in the next 30 years," the FAO stated.
FAO Director Jacques Diouf said the repercussions of not meeting the challenge would be enormous. "Water conflicts can arise in water stressed areas among local communities and between countries," he told a conference marking World Water Day.
"The lack of adequate institutional and legal instruments for water sharing exacerbates already difficult conditions. In the absence of clear and well-established rules, chaos tends to dominate and power plays ...full text