Message from Jeremy Bird on World Food Day 2013

Water plays a vital role in sustainable food systems, IWMI's Director General reminds.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations marks World Food Day each year on 16 October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945. Since then, the world’s population has tripled, whilst average food availability per person has risen by 40%. The achievement is remarkable, but it has come at an enormous cost.

This extraordinary growth has placed great stresses on natural resources. It has degraded soils, polluted and exhausted freshwater supplies, encroached on forests, depleted wild fish stocks, and narrowed biodiversity. It has left these resources with a diminished capacity to meet the food needs of future generations. Intensive farming systems, combined with food wastage on a massive scale, have also become a big source of the greenhouse gas emissions that help to drive the processes of climate change that, in turn, are expected to create new adaptation challenges for farmers.

The theme of World Food Day 2013 is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”

The process of producing food and getting it onto our plates is extraordinarily complex. It involves many different steps and players – not just farmers and fishermen, but the scientists who develop improved technologies; the suppliers of farm inputs; those who transport, store and process food; and those who market it. All people are, of course, consumers of food and what they decide to eat, how they acquire it, and the ways in which they prepare it.

World Food Day 2013 is an invitation to us to consider just how well the system is working and what can be done to improve it.

Water, of course, plays a vital role at almost every stage of every food production system. IWMI’s research into what drives water use and access has the potential to be an important contributor to improved policies for global food sustainability.


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