14 Mar 2018

WORLD WATER DAY, BARILLA FOUNDATION: “4 IN EVERY 10 PEOPLE STILL DON'T HAVE ENOUGH WATER, BUT IT WOULD BE ENOUGH SIMPLY TO RETHINK HOW WE PRODUCE FOOD TO IMPROVE THIS SITUATION”

• More than 90% of water consumption (water footprint) can be referred to agriculture and food production, but by adopting sustainable diets, for instance by choosing vegetable proteins over animal proteins, we could reduce our impact on water resources 

• According to the Food Sustainability Index, Ethiopia, Australia and Colombia are the most virtuous countries in managing the water resources utilized for agricultural production

• In Italy, water management is in the good track, but it still import too much "virtual water" for food production




The Earth's surface is water-covered, but of the approximately 1.4 billion km3 only 0.001% (between 9 and 14,000 km3) of the total volume can be collected for human use1. In practice, if all the water in the world were 1 liter, the quantity available to us would be half a coffee spoonful2. Water scarcity today affects 2 billion people in a large number of countries across the globe3 : 4 in every 10 people4  do not have access to this precious resource to meet their needs. And yet, despite such a limited water availability, over 90% of our individual water footprint5  is for the food we eat6. This is because most of the water we use is needed for the food production process. How much water do we eat every day? 2,312 liters of water are required to produce a 150-gram portion of red meat, 477 liters for a 150-gram portion of cheese, 130 liters for a 100-gram sandwich and 50 liters for one tomato7. But the impact of agriculture on water usage changes from one country to another, especially regarding the percentage of water used from renewable sources, which ranges from extremely low percentage values in countries like Sweden or Canada (with 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively), to countries such as the United Arab Emirates, where the percentage is a whopping 2208%. Italy is at just 6.7%. These are the recent figures released by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, on the occasion of the upcoming World Water Day on March 22. 

Water scarcity refers to a phenomenon not limited to a merely physical lack, but also to an "economic scarcity", that is to say access and the ability to collect this precious resource using suitable infrastructure. This second type of scarcity affects a quarter of the world's population and it is concentrated mainly in developing countries. Yet, by the year 2025, the so-called "water stress" is, in other words, the quantity and quality of the available fresh water in a country, will concern two thirds of the world's population8

Agriculture is the sector which requires the largest quantity of fresh water in the world. This demand is intended to grow, considering that in 2050 the population will reach 9 billion people and we will have to meet a bigger demand for food (up to +70%) and water consumption of at least +20%. If we add that climate change will modify rainfall, evaporation, temperature and the quantity of extreme events, such as drought and flooding, then it becomes clear that we need to review our food models and adopt healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Adopting a Mediterranean diet could help us reduce our water footprint by more than 2 thousand liters of water a day per person9 compared to a typical "Western" diet, and also reap benefits for our health in the process10. Revolutionizing our eating habits along with a more sustainable approach to farming practices constitute compulsory paths to take if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the 2030 Agenda and preserve our Planet's health”, stated Marta Antonelli Head of the Research Program at BCFN Foundation, who will also be attending the Labirinto di Acque , Masone di Fontanellato, Parma, on March 24, 2018.


FOOD SUSTAINABILITY INDEX AND WATER: ETHIOPIA, AUSTRALIA AND COLOMBIA BEST PRACTICES TO FOLLOW

Ethiopia, Australia and Colombia are the countries which, according to the Food Sustainability Index11 , represent examples of good practice in water management. This is thanks to a number of initiatives which have been implemented to recycle this precious asset for farming purposes, as well as one of the lowest values of “water collection for farming use”, especially compared to the resources available. The percentage on the total renewable resources is also a good value, confirming this scenario: in other words, 7.9% for Ethiopia, 2.6% for Australia and 0.3% for Colombia. The Index, as mentioned earlier, shows that the most virtuous countries in terms of “quantity of water used drawing on renewable sources” include Germany, Sweden and Canada, but on the other hand, it also shows how the biggest challenges will be faced by places that suffer from “water scarcity”, such as Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia, which registered a significant shortage of fresh water for 12 consecutive months. It will be up to these countries, alongside many others, to rethink the way this resource is used and managed, especially in the farming sector.

ITALY, WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FARING WELL, BUT WE IMPORT TOO MUCH "VIRTUAL WATER"

With its 6 thousand cubic milliliters of “virtual water” imported each year, Italy (followed by Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan) is ranked 30th in the general classification of importers of this type of water, demonstrating a strong dependence upon farming production originating from irrigation systems of other countries in the world. At the individual level, our water footprint is at 89% and it is determined by our food consumption, for a figure amounting to 6,309 liters per capita a day12 . Sustainability of the fishing sector also needs to be monitored in Italy: almost 30% of fish stock is at risk, due to excessive exploitation. On the other hand, the Country stands out for the presence of "water recycling initiatives" and for “collection in the farming sector”. These results rank Italy in 6th place in the global classification in terms of water resource usage and management according to the FSI



 1 Eating Planet, 2016

 2 Revised data from Eating Planet 2016; Water Economy: water emergency amid availability and financial interests

 3 FAO 2007 http://www.fao.org/3/a-aq444e.pdf

 4 WHO, 2012 http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/climate_change/facts/en/index5.html 

 5 Index which measures the amount of water used in the production of an asset

6  Hoekstra, A.Y & Mekonnen M.M., (2012) http://www.pnas.org/content/109/9/3232.short 

7  Hoekstra & Water Footprint Network (2017) http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/ 

8 UNESCO 2012 http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr4-2012/

9  BCFN 2014.Double Pyramid 2014

10  Rockström et al., 2011; Gerten, 2013

 11 Index developed by BCFN in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit that analyzes the sustainability of the food system in 34 countries which make up 87% of the global GDP and 2/3 of the world's population

12 WWF, 2014. Italy's water footprint. http://awsassets.wwfit.panda.org/downloads/impronta_idrica_finale3.pdf


BCFN PRESS OFFICE c/o INC ISTITUTO NAZIONALE PER LA COMUNICAZIONE


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