Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water security / scarcity

2 October 2019

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a special report reviewing the impacts of climate change on the oceans and cryosphere (ice gaps, glaciers and frozen ground), incorporating evidence that has been published since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. It finds that climate change has shrunk ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice as well as heated permafrost (ground that normally remains frozen all year).

Image: Kevin Dooley, Rain cloud over Phoenix, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 March 2019

This paper uses climate models to estimate that average precipitation across many crop production areas will change by more than natural variability throughout the 21st century. Changes are seen even if emissions are relatively low, but meeting the Paris climate goals could reduce the extent of cropland that is affected.

13 March 2019

Over half a million acres of irrigated farmland may have to be permanently taken out of agricultural use in the San Joaquin valley in California in order to conserve groundwater, according to this report by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California. The report suggests using the land for generating solar energy, restoring ecosystems or managing flood risk by restoring floodplains.

Image: Narek75, Tomato harvesting in Armenia, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
4 February 2019

This paper maps interruptions to food production across the world between 1961 and 2013 and highlights the links and tradeoffs between events in different food sectors, including crops, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture.

18 September 2018

The University of East Anglia’s Global Environmental Justice Group is running a five-week online course on “Environmental Justice”, hosted on the Future Learn website. Several food-relevant topics will be covered, including water justice, forest governance, biodiversity conservation, and climate justice.

Image: ales_kartal, Harvest harvester tractor, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
31 July 2018

Farmers in Britain and other European countries have been affected by the ongoing heatwave and dry weather. Oxfordshire farmer Lesley Chandler told the Guardian, “It’s like a tinderbox out here… Just a spark could set it all alight” (read more here). Combine harvesters can create sparks if their blades hit a stone.

10 July 2018

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published a new World Atlas of Desertification, which provides maps of different factors relevant to desertification such as land use, human appropriation of biological productivity, virtual water use, smallholder agriculture and livestock production.

Image: Sumita Roy Dutta, Ice stupas near Phyang monastery, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
11 June 2018

A project in Ladakh, India, creates “ice stupas”, a form of artificial glacier, to complement intermittent water flow from retreating natural glaciers. Water from streams is sprayed from vertical pipes during the winter, freezing into pointed mounds, which melt slowly throughout the year, irrigating crops in the summer.

Image: olle svensson, avocado, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
4 June 2018

Some avocado plantation owners in Chile are illegally diverting water from rivers and leaving local villagers without enough water, according to a feature in the Guardian. Demand for avocados has increased by 27% in the UK in the last year. Activist Veronica Vilches claimed that local people are getting sick because of the lack of water, while activist Rodrigo Mundaca says that the water provided to resident by trucks is of poor quality.

Image: Hydrosami, Drought land dry mud BOUHANIFIA Algeria, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
26 May 2018

Researchers from Nasa have used satellite data to identify areas where freshwater reserves have increased or decreased. The study found that in 14 regions, the changes were likely due to human factors (e.g. groundwater pumping), and in 8 areas, the changes were caused mainly by climate (e.g. drought or ice-sheet melting). Freshwater availability decreased in several areas including northern India, north-east China, the Caspian and Aral Seas and some of the Middle East.

Photo: USDA NRCS, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
21 January 2018

This article examines global overuse of freshwater resources and how more sustainable irrigation practices could impact other environmental and developmental targets in the SDGs. It finds that the main likely effects are 1) increased food prices due to lower productivity and/or production costs as water prices increase, and 2) cropland expansion and associated extra GHG emissions of 0.87 gigatonnes of carbon.

28 November 2017

This new book, edited by Laura M. Pereira, Caitlin A. McElroy, Alexandra Littaye and Alexandra M. Girard, presents a diversity of collaborations between various governance actors in the management of the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus and analyses the ability of emergent governance structures to cope with the complexity of future challenges across FEW systems worldwide.

30 October 2017

Countries attending FAO’s 40th conference in Rome discussed climate change and food security from different perspectives linking climate-action, nutrition and migration to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Four side events related to climate change took place during this conference, which can now be watched online.

Photo: Chris Happel, irrigation at dawn, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

This research identifies the major crops and countries contributing to groundwater depletion. The authors found that 11 percent of unsustainable groundwater used for irrigation is embedded in international crop trade. They highlight the main exporters and importers of these crops, and the associated risks for local and global food and water security.

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