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Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2013 Sep 30;371(2002):20120410. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2012.0410. Print 2013 Nov 13.

Growing water scarcity in agriculture: future challenge to global water security.

Author information

1
SIWI and Stockholm Resilience Center, , Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

As water is an essential component of the planetary life support system, water deficiency constitutes an insecurity that has to be overcome in the process of socio-economic development. The paper analyses the origin and appearance of blue as well as green water scarcity on different scales and with particular focus on risks to food production and water supply for municipalities and industry. It analyses water scarcity originating from both climatic phenomena and water partitioning disturbances on different scales: crop field, country level and the global circulation system. The implications by 2050 of water scarcity in terms of potential country-level water deficits for food self-reliance are analysed, and the compensating dependence on trade in virtual water for almost half the world population is noted. Planetary-scale conditions for sustainability of the global water circulation system are discussed in terms of a recently proposed Planetary Freshwater Boundary, and the consumptive water use reserve left to be shared between water requirements for global food production, fuelwood production and carbon sequestration is discussed. Finally, the importance of a paradigm shift in the further conceptual development of water security is stressed, so that adequate attention is paid to water's fundamental role in both natural and socio-economic systems.

KEYWORDS:

blue water; global food supply; green water; planetary freshwater boundary; water crowding; water scarcity

PMID:
24080619
DOI:
10.1098/rsta.2012.0410

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