Water Resources Management

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 3–18 | Cite as

Shift in thinking to address the 21st century hunger gap

Moving focus from blue to green water management
Original Article


The present water policy debate is dominated by the 30 yr old mission to secure water supply and sanitation to all people. The water needed to produce a nutritionally acceptable diet for one person is however 70 times as large as the amount needed for domestic water supply. The food security dilemma is largest in arid climate regions, a situation constituting a formidable challenge. It is suggested that an additional 5 600 km3/yr of consumptive water use will be needed to produce an adequate amount of food by 2050 – i.e almost a doubling of today’s consumptive use of 6800 km3/yr. Past misinterpretations and conceptual deficiencies show the importance of a shift in thinking. Combining the scale of the challenge and the time scale of the efforts to feed humanity and eradicate hunger leads to an impression of great urgency. This urgency strengthens the call for international research both for supporting agricultural upgrading, and for much better handling of issues of environmental sustainability. What stands out is the need of a new generation of water professionals, able to handle complexity and able to incorporate water implications of land use and of ecosystem health in integrated water resources management. It will for those reasons be essential and urgent to upgrade the educational system to producing this new generation.


Water perceptions Consumptive water use Global food security Water losses Rainwater partitioning Blue water Green water Hydroclimatic differences Environmental sustainability Water management 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)StockholmSweden

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