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What the nexus between water, food and development tells us about the ‘impending water and food crisis’

The world is facing a crisis of water scarcity, that risks major political instability

Increasing activity of food systems threatens the sustainability of major river basin systems

Conflict over increasingly scarce water resources threat Water Wars

These are the kinds of statement that have been promoted in recent years. They paint a picture of an inevitable loss of river basin function and consequential poverty, food insecurity and political disturbance. Conventional wisdom says that the world is heading for a major water crisis. Based on findings from its Basin Focal Project (BFP), CPWF has published a book, Water, Food and Poverty in River Basins: Defining the Limits that presents a different picture form the dire situation outlined above.

Many of the world’s river basins have tremendous potential to sustain human needs over the next 40 years but the way we learn to develop, manage and share these resources is critical. What is proposed is an ecosystem services perspective, in which all major ecosystem services are evaluated together. This broader view will enable a different kind of politics that respects the range of aspects, from food, to power to environmental function. How people will manage river systems collectively, for multiple uses, and across scales, while protecting vital ecosystem functions will make the difference between catastrophe and survival.

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