UNESCAP News Services
Date: 23 March 2012
Press Release: G/18/2012
Asia-Pacific region must use scarce water resources wisely to feed growing population
Bangkok (UN ESCAP Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section) – Population and economic growth, together with climate change are a challenge to ensuring food security in the Asia-Pacific region. The region must work together for the sustainable use of its limited water resources, the United Nations and its partners said here on the occasion of World Water Day.
“Water is a source of life and binds us all. Understanding and carefully managing its cycle is vital: we need clear water for safe food production,” Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) told a World Water Day ceremony organized here jointly by ESCAP, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Observed annually on 22 March, World Water Day 2012 carried the theme “Water and Food Security”.
The Asia-Pacific region has the world’s highest annual water withdrawal due to its size, population and irrigation practices, with agriculture accounting for 78 per cent of total water use. At the same time, climate change is adversely affecting the water cycle posing a new threat to food security in the region which must step up food production substantially over the coming decades to feed a growing population. Moreover, growing demand for meat and dairy products as incomes rise in the region, means more water-intensive agricultural and livestock production.
“Addressing these challenges and risks require holistic water governance which will also address the issues of both mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” Mr. Murata said.
In his address to the forum, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma said “the demand for food is not negotiable”. As agriculture is the bulk water user in the region, “farming holds the key to sustainable use of water resources today and in the future”.
A panel discussion that followed, emphasized that available water and land resources for food production are known and limited. Feeding the Asia-Pacific region's additional population and correcting for inequalities and imbalances will have to result from appropriate and integrated water resources management.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Francyne Harrigan
Chief, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP
T: (66) 2 288 1864, M: (66) 81 835 8677, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Headquartered in Bangkok, United Nations ESCAP is the largest of the UN's five Regional Commissions in terms of its membership, population served and area covered. The only inter-governmental forum covering the entire Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP works to promote sustainable and inclusive economic and social progress. More information on ESCAP is available at www.unescap.org