Good News from Thu, 15 March, 2012:

No bread without water

Finland is a country of abundant water resources and reasonably clean lakes. Water-related problems are not a part of everyday life in Finland, except for the occasional “water crisis”. Water cannot be overlooked in the dialogue on global food and energy security.

All civilisations have evolved around water, the availability of which has sustained life. The proper functioning of the relationship between water, food and energy improves social stability.

At the moment, countries that cannot afford to desalinate seawater are particularly threatened with water disasters. One such country plagued by a water crisis is Yemen. According to some worst-case scenarios, this country in turmoil has only a few years left before its challenges spiral out of control.

Finland has had time to develop the water solutions that the world so desperately needs. Finnish water expertise is currently in the spotlight at the 6th World Water Forum being held in Marseille, France. Up to 30 000 water-sector professionals from around the world will be taking part in the event, which began on Monday. Finland’s water-focussed year continues in the summer at the Rio+20 UN Conference. The aim of both events is to discuss the food-water-energy nexus and to discover solutions, because the number of countries with severe water-related challenges is constantly on the rise.

According to present estimates, the production of food will double by 2050, which means water consumption will increase significantly while its availability simultaneously declines. One way to understand the significance of the water footprint is to use the “coffee-cup index”: making one cup of coffee requires 140 litres of water.

It has been estimated that the only way the food-water-energy nexus can remain intact is if food can be produced using less land and water. Finland’s strengths in solving these water challenges, which involve all of us in one way or another, are the improvement of water reuse and monitoring systems.