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World Water Week 2012: water use efficiency, key to eradicating hunger

The 2012 World Water Week  kicked off in Stockholm yesterday with leading water professionals calling for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce losses of food in the supply chain, enhance water efficiency in agriculture and curb consumer waste.

Speaking at the opening session, Dr. Colin Chartres, Director-General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), said: “Feeding over 9 billion people by 2050 is possible, but we have to reflect on the cost to the environment in terms of water withdrawals and land resources. Furthermore it will put phenomenal pressure on ecosystem services on which our society depends. Saving water by reducing food waste, increasing productivity, plant breeding and waste water recycling are critical to all of us.”
“More than one-fourth of all the water we use worldwide is taken to grow over one billion tons of food that nobody eats. That water, together with the billions of dollars spent to grow, ship, package and purchase the food, is sent down the drain.” said Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), organisers of the annual event.

“Reducing the waste of food is the smartest and most direct route to relieve pressure on water and land resources. It’s an opportunity we cannot afford to overlook,” he added.
Over two thousand politicians, CEOs, scientists and leaders of international organisations from more than 100 nations are gathering in Stockholm, Sweden, for the annual World Water Week, which this year focuses on “Water and Food Security”.
Participants at the week will deliberate on issues countries leasing foreign land for agricultural production, trade, human rights, climate change, and the inter-linkages between food, water and energy production. The International Water Resource Economics Consortium (IWREC) will host a Chief Economist Panel debate on how to use economic policy instruments to manage water more efficiently.

Later in the week, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden will present the Stockholm Water Prize to the International Water Management Institute, IWMI, for their work to improve agriculture water management, enhance food security, protect environmental health and alleviate poverty in developing countries.

Other prizes that will be presented during the week are the Stockholm Junior Water Prize – which is given to one national team from 27 competing nations, and the Stockholm Industry Water Award, which will be presented this year to PepsiCo for their efforts to reduce water consumption in their operations and to help solve water challenges on a broad scale.

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