The world's water supply is being strained by climate change and the growing food, energy and sanitary needs of a fast-growing population, according to a United Nations study that calls for a radical rethink of policies to manage competing claims.
"Freshwater is not being used sustainably," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement. "Accurate information remains disparate, and management is fragmented ... the future is increasingly uncertain and risks are set to deepen."
The call for sustainable practices comes amid a three hundred percent increase of ground water use in the last fifty years with an anticipated rise to seventy percent of all ground water used within fifty years. The estimate is that the food production will have to increase by seventy percent within those fifty years to keep up with demand, further straining already limited water resources.
"Climate change will drastically affect food production in South Asia and Southern Africa between now and 2030," the report says. "By 2070, water stress will also be felt in central and southern Europe."
A perfect storm of a warming climate, an explosion in population and mismanagement of resources have led to the conclusion in the study which will be debated at the World Water Forum scheduled to begin on March 12, 2012 in Marseille, France.