chapter  1
20 Pages

Food security in water-short countries – Coping with carrying capacity overshoot

ByMalin Falkenmark & Mats Lannerstad

ABSTRACT: Given that water is the core resource for plant production, the study analyses the carrying capacity overshoot threatening a large part of the planet by 2050 AD, in view of current dietary tendencies towards 3,000 kcal/day per person with 20% animal-based food. It shows the enormous unbalance caused by population growth and the ambitions of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of hunger alleviation if environmental sustainability should be met. The world is moving towards a future where indeed 2/3 of the world population because of water constraints will be depending on the remaining 1/3 for supplying them with part of their food needs, so that they can feed their population at the assumed dietary level. This would necessitate more than doubling of today’s trade-based virtual water transfer to compensate for foreseeable food water deficits. But food security in some poor countries would still remain problematic due to lack of purchasing power to import. Half of these countries might solve their future food supply by aiming at lower animal based food. Others will have to seek support from other nations, in terms of emergency aid to avoid horizontal expansion, or continued undernourishment. It will thus be essential for the world to steer away from current dietary tendencies in terms of water-consuming animal-based components. Much can be gained already by moving from today’s 20% to the 5% considered satisfactory for human health.