World Food Day 2023: Water crisis threatens $58 trillion in economic value, food security, says WWF report

According to a recent report, a growing global water crisis could threaten $58 trillion worth of economic value as well as food security, sustainability, and food security.

World Wide Fund for Nature released a report titled Cheap Water and its High Cost on World Food Day, October 16, by World Wide Fund for Nature.

This is the first time that a value of $58 trillion has been estimated for freshwater ecosystems and water. The report explained that it is 60 percent of the global gross domestic product.

The analysis was prepared in collaboration with Dalberg Advisors strategy consulting firm.

The degradation of river ecosystems, wetlands, and aquifers threatens not only their value economically but also their irreplaceable function in maintaining our food security and human and planet health. The world’s most valuable yet undervalued natural resource (in fact) is at the core of a growing global crisis.

The water and freshwater ecosystems provide several direct and indirect advantages. According to the report, immediate economic benefits such as water consumption, agriculture, and industries amount to at least $7.5 trillion per year.

The unseen benefits, such as purifying water, improving soil health, storing CO2, and protecting communities against extreme flooding and droughts, are around 50 trillion dollars per year.

It stated that “the world’s freshwater eco-systems are in a spiral downward, posing a growing risk to these economic value.”

Since 1970, the world has lost one-third of its remaining wetlands, and freshwater wildlife populations, on average, have dropped by 83%. The result is that more people are facing food and water insecurity. Rivers and lakes are drying up, and pollution is increasing.

The document used the example of Europe’s Danube Basin. Eighty percent of the floodplains on the Danube and its tributaries – essential for flood risk mitigation and groundwater recharge as well as water filtration – have been destroyed.

Only 16 percent of the rivers within the Danube Basin are in their natural state or near-natural, and less than 20% have been altered to a near-natural condition. The Danube, Europe’s second-longest river after the Volga, is the second-longest river in the world.

Humans are to blame

According to the report, unsustainable agricultural practices are among the main threats to rivers and floodplains.

According to the World Bank, agriculture accounts for more than 70% of freshwater consumed by humans. The over-extraction for irrigation of crops also reduces the water available for other uses, such as natural flow that supports fisheries. Floodplains are now used for agricultural fields. The capacity of river systems to purify, reduce flood risk, and mitigate drought has been reduced.

In addition, the excessive use of fertilizers can cause diffuse pollution to surface and underground water.

“Threats against river systems are threats to the food security.” We can only maintain agricultural productivity in the future by protecting and restoring river systems, their former and active floodplains, and keeping water in landscapes with natural water retention methods, according to Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director of WWF-Central & Eastern Europe.

Lucius recommended countrieecosystemsature-positive agricultural production and maintaining free-flowing rivers for agricultural productivity.

It is also important to adopt dietary practices that reduce the demand for freshwater-stressing products and sustainable land use practices.

Our current food production practices not only damage freshwater ecosystems but also are identified as primary contributors to ecosystem change and biodiversity loss. The ecosystem is a result of these practices, and landscapes are less able to cope with droughts and water scarcity. She added that the food industry could drive positive change by adopting leading sustainability practices.

The report urged for the importance of healthy water ecosystems. The report asserted that these ecosystems play a crucial role in climate adaptation by mitigating extreme flooding, building resilience against droughts, protecting from storms and erosion, and regulating temperatures and Micro-climates.

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