World Bulletin / News Desk
The world needs to find the equivalent of the flow of 20 Nile rivers by 2025 to grow enough food to feed a rising population and help avoid conflicts over water scarcity, a group of former leaders said on Monday.
Factors such as climate change would strain freshwater supplies and nations including China and India were likely to face shortages within two decades, they said, calling on the U.N. Security Council to get more involved.
"The future political impact of water scarcity may be devastating," former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said of a study issued by a group of 40 former leaders he co-chairs including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.
"It will lead to some conflicts," Chretien told reporters on a telephone conference call, highlighting tensions such as in the Middle East over the Jordan River.
The study, by the InterAction Council of former leaders, said the U.N. Security Council should make water the top concern. Until now, the Security Council has treated water as a factor in other crises, such as Sudan or the impact of global warming.
It said that about 3,800 cubic km (910 cubic miles) of fresh water was taken from rivers and lakes every year.
"With about 1 billion more mouths to feed worldwide by 2025, global agriculture alone will require another 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of water per year," it said. The world population now is just over 7 billion.
The increase was "equal to the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers", according to the report, also backed by the U.N. University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNWEH) and Canada's Gordon Foundation.
It said the greatest growth in demand for water would be in China, the United States and India due to population growth, increasing irrigation and economic growth.
"By 2030, demand for water in India and China, the most populous nations on Earth, will exceed their current supplies," the report said.
Global warming, blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would aggravate the problems.
"We say in the U.N. system that climate change is all about water," said Zafar Adeel, director of UNWEH. Severe weather events - such as droughts, floods, mudslides or downpours - were becoming more frequent.
UN-Water, which coordinates water-related efforts by the United Nations, will organise a meeting of foreign ministers this month and separate talks among experts on Sept. 25 to look at ways to address concerns over water.
The report said there were examples of water-related conflicts, for instance between Israelis and Palestinians over aquifers, between Egypt and other nations sharing the Nile, or between Iran and Afghanistan over the Hirmand River.
But it said the world had many chances to conserve water and to shift towards what it called a "blue economy". Fixing leaky pipes could help - in developing nations, about 40 percent of domestic water is lost before it reaches households.
The report said that annual spending on improving water supplies and sanitation in developing nations should be raised by about $11 billion a year. Every dollar spent would yield an economic return of $3 to $4, it estimated.
One billion people have no fresh water and 2 billion lack basic sanitation. About 4,500 children die of water-related diseases every day - the equivalent of 10 jumbo jets falling out of the sky with no survivors, Chretien wrote.
Spanish news publishers want government to negotiate with Google.
The Russian space station Mir, launched by the Soviet Union in 1986, operated until 2001 and President Vladimir Putin is now seeking to reform Russia's once-pioneering space industry
Google's action caps a decade of acrimony with news publishers who blame the search giant for revenue and readership declines
Top climate envoy gives broad support for global deal but says country's "special circumstances" must be factored.
Finnish cyber-security expert tells Istanbul audience that people have made gigantic IT companies billions in profits by providing private data for services.
The scientific observation of Pluto, its entourage of moons and other bodies in the solar system's frozen backyard begins Jan. 15
For the first time in more than 40 years, NASA has launched a spaceship designed to carry astronauts far beyond Earth
Benefits of digital revolution outweigh risks, Germany’s Chancellor says
Last month, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to make climate change a top priority when Turkey hosts next year’s G20 summit
The emails of Apple’s late CEO is being used as evidence in antitrust claim.
The report said the malware overrides data on hard drives of computers and can make them inoperable and shut down networks.
Among those hit were the London newspapers Daily Telegraph, Independent and Evening Standard, which reported that other news organisations had also been targeted.
The European Union's privacy watchdogs agreed on a set of guidelines to help them implement a ruling from Europe's supreme court that gives people the right to ask search engines to remove personal information
Iraq bars private companies from owning fixed networks transiting domestic data and anything they build is usually seized by the government.
The new crew faces a busy six months in orbit, including a trio of spacewalks to prepare the station for a new fleet of U.S. commercial space taxis