Food Security and Water:The Domestic ContextFood Security and Water:The International Context
In a twist o geological ate, the abundance o the UAE’senergy reserves have been counter balanced by the scarcityo its water resources. With little natural reshwater, theUAE’s domestic agricultural capacity - and thereore oodproduction capabilities - are severely restrained.For the UAE, water usage is costly and potential shortagesare a serious concern or the uture.In act, ew nations and no other region experience waterscarcity to such a degree. While the Middle East has vepercent o the world’s population, it has less than onepercent o the world’s renewable reshwater resources. Oncurrent trends, the situation is expected to get worse. Wateravailability in the region is estimated to all by hal by 2050having reached absolute water scarcity by 2025, resulting inpotentially acute shortages.The UAE is relies on water desalination or a signicantamount o its reshwater needs. Water desalination isexpensive and requires signicant energy inputs. TheUAE’s desalination plants rely exclusively on ossil uels tomake reshwater, the largest contributing actor to thecountry’s carbon ootprint. By 2030, even with advancesin technology, water desalination will consume at least 20percent o the country’s overall energy demand.Without water security there can be no ood security. TheUAE already imports more than 85 percent o its oodrequirements meaning that disruptions to ood supplyor policy changes by other countries can aect the UAE.Expanding domestic ood production is dicult due to thelack o local water supplies and their cost. Ensuring that thesupply o these most basic o human requirements can besustained is absolutely vital to the UAE’s and the region’songoing human, social and economic development.I not addressed, these issues present potential risks ormany countries in the region. Arid regions such as theMiddle East are likely to be the most strongly hit by theeects o water and ood scarcity. Given the UAE’s extremeclimate, lack o resh water resources and geographicallocation, it is in the UAE’s national interest, and that o theregion, to dedicate the resources necessary to tackle oodand water security.With nearly a billion people in the world suering romchronic hunger, ood security is and will continue to bea critical issue or the international community. Climatechange and an estimated global population increase to ninebillion people by 2050 (according to the United Nations)together raise considerable uncertainty about the planet’sability to continue to eed its inhabitants. The ood crisiso 2008, the high ood prices that we have seen in 2011,and the humanitarian crisis in the Horn o Arica, havehighlighted the importance o ood security.The G-20, under the leadership o the French Presidency,has brought G-20 Agriculture Ministers together to agreean Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture.Through that process, Ministers dealt with our main issues:
Increasing agricultural production and productivity. Thisis the most important long term challenge as eedinga rapidly growing population will require increasedagricultural production by 70 percent by 2050. Ministersemphasized the need or investment in research anddevelopment in agriculture, or governments to createthe appropriate enabling environments to encouragegreater investment in agriculture, and or the privatesector to invest responsibly.
Increasing the transparency o agricultural markets.This principally included establishing a new AgriculturalMarket Inormation System (AMIS) to make datamore accessible on the supply, demand, and prices oagricultural commodities.
Improving international policy coordination. Thisincluded establishing a Rapid Response Forum osenior agriculture policy ocials that agreed toseek to minimize trade distortions, and urge betterunderstanding o the challenges and opportunitiesassociated with bio-uels and especially their impact onood prices.
Mitigating risks or the most vulnerable. This includedlooking at developing a pilot or a regional system oemergency humanitarian ood reserves and encouragingthe use o market and non-market instruments orprotecting the most vulnerable rom price shocks.Neither ood security nor water scarcity can be addressedin isolation representing a complex set o challenges or theregion and the world to address.