The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations marks World Food Day each year on 16 October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945. World Food Day was first held on 16 Oct 1981.
The objectives of World Food Day are to:
Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind. - is the World Food Day theme for 2023.
Water is essential to life on Earth. It makes up over 50% of our bodies and covers about 71% of the Earth's surface. Only 2.5% of water is fresh, suitable for drinking, agriculture, and most industrial uses. Water is a driving force for people, economies and nature and the foundation of our food. Indeed, agriculture accounts for 72% of global freshwater withdrawals, but like all natural resources, fresh water is not infinite.
Rapid population growth, urbanization, economic development, and climate change are putting the planet’s water resources under increasing stress. At the same time, freshwater resources per person have declined 20% in the past decades and water availability and quality are deteriorating fast due to decades of poor use and management, over extraction of groundwater, pollution and climate change. We risk stretching this precious resource to a point of no return.
Today, 2.4 billion people live in water-stressed countries. Many are smallholder farmers who already struggle to meet their daily needs, particularly women, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, and refugees. Competition for this priceless resource is increasing as water scarcity becomes an ever-increasing cause of conflict.
Around 600 million people who depend, at least partially, on aquatic food systems for a living are suffering the effects of pollution, ecosystem degradation, unsustainable practices and climate change.
Water as a livelihood
Water covers 71% of our planet’s surface. From oceans to lakes, rivers and estuaries, water bodies are home to flourishing ecosystems, hosting important habitats and a surprising wealth of biodiversity.
Over 600 million people depend on aquatic food systems for a living including small-scale fishers, fish farmers, fish processors, as well as their dependents. They are the backbone of coastal and inland communities, supporting local economies and influencing cultures worldwide.
Currently, we exploit almost 3 000 species in capture fisheries, and we cultivate over 650 of these species.
The diversity of aquatic food systems makes them a unique and essential source of nutrition and food security. Aquatic foods are increasingly recognized for their potential to combat malnutrition, due to rich essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for human health.
Preserving and safeguarding these aquatic ecosystems and the species they support is not just a responsibility, but a necessity for the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.
It’s time to start managing water wisely
We need to produce more food and other essential agricultural commodities with less water, while ensuring water is distributed equally, our aquatic food systems are preserved, and nobody is left behind.
Governments need to design science and evidence-based policies that capitalize on data, innovation and cross-sectoral coordination to better plan and manage water. They need to support these policies with increased investment, legislation, technologies and capacity development, while incentivizing farmers and the private sector to engage in integrated solutions for a more efficient use of water, and for its conservation.
Source : FAO
Last Modified : 10/11/2023
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